Presentation Tips from a Training Expert

Human resource professional Peter Garber discusses “10 tips for better presentations” in his book Coaching Employee Engagement Training. Your students can use these as a nice little checklist when they’re planning the delivery part of their presentations.

Here’s his advice (in bold), followed by my brief explanations:

(1) Look the part. Garber advises putting careful thought into your choice of clothing and your grooming to show that you know what’s appropriate for the situation and to avoid drawing undue attention to your appeareance.

(2) Pay attention to your nonverbal behaviors. Your body language and your verbal message need to match. If you’re saying that something is important but your body and facial expressions don’t support that, you’ll confuse the audience and lose credibility.

(3) Get your voice heard. The simple point here is that your voice needs to be loud enough for people to hear it. Arrange to have a microphone if necessary.

(4) Practice “stage presence.” Your behaviors should add an interesting supporting dimension to your talk. Garber advises watching entertainers and emulating some of their movements and ways of interacting with the audience.

(5) Take a lesson from the weatherman. Weather forecasters are experts at integrating what they say with the visuals on the screen. They turn and focus on the visual at appropriate moments but then turn back to the camera to talk directly to the audience.

(6) Relate to the audience. As we know, any talk needs to have been planned with the audience’s interests and level of knowledge in mind. During the talk, you should be sensitive to the audience’s responses so you can adapt as you go–for example, going faster or slower or bringing in some audience participation.

(7) Pay attention to the environment. As the speaker, you have some responsibility for ensuring that the atmosphere won’t detract from your talk. Ask if people are comfortable and, if they’re not, see if you can change the room temperature, the lighting, or any feature of the environment that’s not optimal.

(8) Be a variety show. To keep your audience engaged, mix it up. For example, switch from lecturing to asking questions, include other presenters, or have the audience perform an activity.

(9) Entertain the audience. People like funny stories and personal anecdotes, and these can be instructive. Don’t be afraid to use them.

(10) Make them wish you had talked longer. Move along so efficiently and engagingly that people feel energized at the end of your talk–not worn out and glad it’s over.

These tips help us remember that a talk is a triple-channel form of communication, involving visual and auditory media as well as verbal content. The more skillfully presenters manage all three channels, the better the result.

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Greetings from Chicago!

The opening plenary session was excellent! Patti Wood, certified speaking professional and expert on body language, gave us a lot to think about. Did you know that it can take up to six months to undo a first impression?

Particularly interesting was her discussion on handshakes. Yes, handshakes. According to Patti, a handshake is the equivalent of three hours of face-to-face contact. Yet, she said, many people approach the handshake incorrectly. Many people directly extend the hand straight out toward the receiver with the thumb pointed upward. This, however, leads to a wimpy handshake. A better approach is to angle the hand and extend it as though it were a plane circling for a landing.  Doing so allows you to lock thumbs and connect palms with the other person and makes for a much more powerful handshake.

Not so excited about shaking hands? Patti says a “fall-back handshake” can include approaching someone from the left and lightly touching the person’s left forearm with the fingertips of your left hand. Research shows that this has some of the same rapport-building effects as the handshake.

And a little trivia…Patti reports that depending on the research cited, 80-82% of those who give “bone crusher” handshakes have low self-esteem. Hmmm….

There are many  other wonderful sessions scheduled for the rest of the conference. As Jane noted, there are so many that we can’t attend them all. In the spirit of sharing our knowledge, please post your comments here regarding what you learn in your sessions. Enjoy the conference!

~Paula and Kathy