Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Engaging Rather Than Annihilating Your Audiences

The current economically fragile climate demands that employers need and want more input and more output from you. Couple this with ever evolving modern technology that ensures you are constantly ‘switched on’ via your Blackberry and email. It is understandable if you are finding that the amount of time you have to spare on preparing your presentations is punitive.

Yet you, and many other professionals walking in similar shoes, are regularly called upon to participate in conference calls, updates with your bosses, peers and juniors, and meetings with representatives from other branches. A lack of quality time, however, does not constitute an excuse for delivering poorly prepared presentations. Resultantly, they are highly likely to be anywhere between uncomfortable to excruciating for you to deliver, and of little value to your audience at the receiving end. Your lack public speaking prowess is unquestionably detrimental to how you are perceived within your business.

An ideal platform for improvement is therefore provided by the identification of your current public speaking type. Which are you?:-

Audience Blocked

Are you so intent on bulldozing through your content that you completely disregard the body language of your audience? They might be checking their mobile phones or texting, doodling, or simply lost in their own thoughts. When you spot these signs of audience disengagement, you pay them no heed. Your personal objective is to see your presentation through, to the letter, from end to end, heaving a sigh of relief afterwards that you managed to plod from A to B.

Audience Connected

Do you tune in to the mood of your audience and ramp the tempo up a notch with questions and recaps when you spot waning interest? You are savvy enough when delivering presentations to have learnt that the sharing of experiences and stories, and timely insertion of interactive exercises, keep energy levels high. You understand that connection with your audience is key. It gets them on board, working in partnership with you, ensuring a gratifying experience for them and you alike.

Audience Reliant

Is your reliance on constant audience reassurance so needy that you struggle to move forward towards conclusion? You are prepared to laboriously resolve a minor query of just one audience member, even if the rest of the rest of the audience are throwing up their hands in boredom and incredulity. Or one person caught sneakily texting is likely to send you in to a tailspin of self doubt that your delivery is not interesting enough, or your subject matter to easy, or too hard.

Many lesser experienced presenters suffer from being too blocked or too reliant. In your quest to up your public speaking game to achieve greater audience connection, there are a variety of simple techniques that you can adopt to help you meet your goals:-

Involve Not Alienate

Participation levels during smaller presentations are increased by doing recaps. Larger audience involvement is enhanced by interactive exercises and role plays.

Mix It Up

Rather than reading back at your audience words that they can already see on the screen, think about incorporating discussion groups, relevant images, and even video clips. Inclusion of any or all of these techniques leaves audiences with lasting impressions that far exceed verbal overload.

Make ‘Em Laugh

Try using befitting humour that directly relates to your subject matter, is not in bad taste and is inoffensive.

Qualify And Quantify

Do not simply expect your audience to blindly ingest reams of data. Draw upon your personal experiences, or those of people you know, to amplify the relevance of the points you are making.

Ask And You Shall Receive

Insert direct or hypothetical questions regularly throughout your presentations, in order to confirm your audiences understanding and keep them interested. Do not, under any circumstances, simply ask if there are any questions at the end of presentations, or do not be surprised at the consequent pregnant pause. Of course your audience will not have any questions, as their attention probably wandered after your opening slides