Back in another lifetime, I was sitting in an overly hot auditorium listening to a medical professional talk for 90 minutes about the great strides being made in pharmacology. Let me rephrase that - I was listening to a medical professional um and ah and you know her way through 90 stultifyingly dull minutes of glaucoma medication talk at an ophthalmology conference. I learned nothing from that presentation... well, almost nothing. I did learn that it was possible for a speaker to insert roughly 1800 audible pauses into a 90 minute talk without batting an eye. And thats about all I remember. Fast-forward to today. Through my speaker coaching business, TomMeansBusiness.com, I have noticed that this style of delivery is more common than most people realize. And poor speaking technique doesnt stop with audible pauses. It continues with aimless wandering, with poor eye contact, with no attention having been given to designing and creating a powerful, effective PowerPoint presentation and, last but certainly not least, with the failure of a presenter to make any significant connection with an audience. As speakers, coaches and presenters, we all try to improve our craft. Whether we are in the medical field, the motivational field, the self-improvement field or any other field, we want to be the best we can be. So we listen to the experts as each helps us learn to market ourselves more effectively. We are captivated as internet gurus explain how to make money over the Internet. We marvel at the seemingly effortless speaking technique of Jonathan Sprinkles and we dream of getting our motivational stories into Jack Canfields amazing Chicken Soup for the Soul books. We leave a motivational presentation - our heads buzzing with ideas and our Action Steps list overflowing. If youre like me, you envision yourself going out into your niche market and really making a difference. You see yourself booking and then engaging your audience. All that is good stuff. Excellent stuff. But have you taken the time to make sure that the message you want to get out there is going to be heard? You have a well prepared script but how is your eye contact with your audience? How many ums do you have in your presentation? Have you eliminated the obvious audible pauses only to discover you replaced them with clever audible pauses like you know and okay? and as far as...? Are you using PowerPoint effectively or are you undercutting the learning that an effective PowerPoint presentation promises by using slides with way too many words and leaving those slides on the screen long past the point in your presentation where you actually discussed those points? We all know that our message is important for our audience to hear. But if we are not making it possible for them to HEAR it because it is being delivered poorly, we are not helping our audience and we are certainly not helping ourselves. In my book SnoozeProof Your Presentations & 10 Things I Hate About PowerPoint, I write about simple techniques a speaker should employ to make a presentation more effective. Heres one quick way to become better at delivering your message. Its videotape. Thats right. Invest in an inexpensive video camera that can record your entire presentation. You dont need professional lights or audio equipment. You dont need Spielberg to direct and shoot it. It just needs to be a clear and audible video recording of your talk. Put your inexpensive video camera (or even a flip phone) on a tripod in the back of the room at your next presentation and hit "record". Then... and this is the hard part... take that sucker home and WATCH it! A lot people hate to see themselves on videotape. But you must get over that stumbling block to make this tool work for you. If you record yourself every time you present AND if you can watch that recording as if you were a member of the audience, you will see the things that you never remember having done when you typically do your post-presentation assessment - things such as audible pauses and physical tics that have the power to detract from your message. Watch your videotape with a critical eye. Look for the places where your attention as a viewer wanders. Be aware of your physical movements. Listen to the timbre of your voice. Be especially aware of mispronunciations and those dreaded ums and ahs. Look for places to vary your dynamic range and vocal intensity. And then take steps to correct those areas. Your message is important. Make sure that your audience can hear it.
Originally published on July 07, 2011 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau