admit it. When I attend
presentations, seminars, and speeches, I pay as much attention to the
speakers' delivery as I do to the content of their remarks.
I suppose that's only natural for someone who coaches people how to
communicate in public forums. But I understand it can be a bit unnerving
For instance, I once moderated a discussion where the organizer
failed to give the panelists any biographical information about me in
advance (hint: Make sure you know who's going to be on the platform with
you). It wasn't until afterwards that one panelist — with a wealth of
speaking experience, no less — told me that she got a mild case of the
jitters when she heard about my background during the introductions.
When cloaked in the anonymity of the peanut gallery, what do I watch for?
Primarily, I look to see if the speaker is using all available tools to
make a connection with the audience. Do audience members appear to be
engaged or are they plagued by droopy eyelids? When the question and
answer session arrives, is there a lot of back and forth or does everyone
storm the exits?
Focusing on the speaker, does she demonstrate a passion for her topic and
a desire to be there at that moment? Or is she bored and just going
through the motions? If the size and format allow, did she mingle with
audience members beforehand or stand to one side aloof, appearing not to
Other clues I monitor include the presenter's video and audio keys. On the
video side, there are animation, eye contact, position, and props to
consider. Is animation natural or is the speaker a statue? Is she making
eye contact with the entire audience or just a sliver of it? Does she
position herself clutching a podium for dear life or does she interact
with the crowd? Do props (including things like overheads and multimedia
slides) add to the presentation or serve to distract?
Audio keys include color, loudness, emotion, and rate. Does the speaker
use colorful words that paint a vivid picture or do her words come across
in shades of gray? Does she vary her loudness, using both softer and
louder tones to capture the audience's ears? Is there some emotion behind
her words; does she make her audience care? Is her cadence flat and
droning, or does she alter her rate of speech on occasion and use pauses
I'm not suggesting you begin to dissect every presentation you attend.
These insights are simply offered to help you when it's your time to shine
in the spotlight.
Oh, and if one of these days you see someone walk up to a speaker who has
just completed a particularly desultory oration and say, "We need to
talk. I can help," please introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you.
works with corporate and association executives who need a
magnetic message and sharp communications skills. He is the author
The Truth About Public Speaking: The Three Keys to Great Presentations.
Contact Ed at www.barkscomm.com.
Articles | Submit
Your Article | PR
Public Relations Homepage