Friday, April 17, 2009

Presentations and public speaking that works

Kudos Russell Scibetti for addressing the need for ALL members of our business community to become effective speakers... I require students throughout the semester to present, speak in class, etc. It's not necessarily about the material they are discussing, but the underlying attempt to have them learn how to be more comfortable speaking in front of a class, panel, audience, etc.

In addition to the "y'know what I'm sayin'?" and the "umm" pause phrases, street talk, slang, cliches and fast talking and low voices, and reading notes, so that all we see are the top of their heads, I tell them that this is their time. They are presenting. First, know your material. If you don't, nothing else will matter, no matter how witty you may be. Secondly, SLOW DOWN. It's not a race. If you need to collect your thoughts or think of the right word, a little silence is completely acceptable. There is no need to fill the void with "um" and"you know".

Make eye contact. Notes are great as a way to remind and keep on track, but DO NOT STAND AND READ THEM. That also brings me to the crutch otherwise known as PowerPoint. Don't create sides full of text that you read to your audience. If you need the slides that much, the audience does not need you! Use the slides as an enhancement, a backdrop, but not the main course.

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