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Power Point Sleeping Pill

August 20, 2009, 22:39:57
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It's like being hypnotized - you wake up afterwards wondering where you are and what happened. It seems like a daydream into The Twilight Zone - another Power Point Presentation by a speaker who believes that bullit points and non-stop slides can somehow transmit the message into the listeners' minds. Here is a list of the 12 deadly sins of Power Point speakers:

 

They say nothing until something comes up on the screen.

They spend all their time talking with their backs to the audience.

They speak in a monotone voice with no breaks and no rhythm.

They have no eye contact with the audience.

They have body language says "I don't want to be here."

They fidget with a pointer or clicker while fumbling through slides.

They fill slides with too many bullet points.

They use too many charts and graphs.

They use too many clip-art clichés.

They try to communicate too much too fast causing info-overload.

They have little patience with questions and explanations.

They believe that detailed, visual data will somehow be absorbed into the brains of their audience.

 

The truth is (and research has proved this), that in any spoken message, 55% of the meaning comes from body language, 38% is in the tone, speed, and music of the voice, and only 7% from the actual words being spoken! The computerized visual aides we use today have taken over our ability to speak and we will not get this ability back until schools start to revive the lost art of public speaking.

 

Can you imagine Martin Luther King using a PowerPoint presentation to say "I have a dream"? Would President John F. Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!" have been communicated better with bullet points? We hide behind our technology today, and the result is that we are boring each other to death with how we communicate information.

 

Most of us are scared of public speaking. We are afraid to look and sound stupid - or even worse, to be ignored. But that is only because we have not been taught how to speak out in public. It is no big secret and anyone can learn to stand up and say things in an interesting way. Cicero, one of Rome's greatest orators was a physical weakling and had a terrible stutter. But with training, and in the days before loudspeakers, he was able to hold a crowd of thousands spell-bound for hours on end.

 

Power Point and other visual aides are great, but they won't make you a great speaker. It is how they are used that matters. Molon, Cicero's oratory master, once told him that in public speaking content had little to do with success. Molon said oratory success was based on three things; Delivery, delivery, and delivery!

 

But how can you improve your public speaking - your delivery? How can you help stop the PowerPoint Pandemic? Here is a checklist and some hints and tricks that should make your next presentation one that will not put people to sleep.

 

Train for your public speaking the same way you would for a sport: Get yourself in shape. Work on your breathing and your posture. Try making your speech while climbing a hill or jogging. Use a mirror to check your posture, clothing, how you move your hands and your facial expressions. If you are not good on a stage, stay behind the podium.

 

Make sure there is at least one suprise in your talk: Cicero's first law of public speaking was to always include some element of surprise. He knew that if his oration was to be talked about and remembered, he had to jolt the audience out of their complacency and surprise them.

 

Work on your tone and delivery: The key to a powerful speech lies in the modulation of your voice. Know when to raise and lower your tone as well as which words to stress. Your energy is infectious and your audience will react to it. Speak with conviction as if you really believe in what you are saying.

 

Look good: Dressing well gives you an added dose of confidence. When you know you look good you feel as if you can take on the world. You don’t have to wear expensive clothes or a designer outfit; it’s enough to dress neatly and feel comfortable.

 

Know your audience: Try to find out as much as you can about your audience and who they are: Will they be eagerly waiting for a lunch break or will it be late in the day when they are tired? Who are they?

 

Speak to one person at a time: Choose one member of your audience and address your presentation to him or her. Focus on a friendly face for a while. Move on to others once you’re comfortable. When someone asks you a question, change your focus to that person and answer the question as if the two of you are in a coffee shop chatting away. Don't loose eye contact.

 

Admit nervousness:  All you have to do is admit that you are a bit nervous speaking to your audience. When you do this, the audience will be more forgiving if your nervousness shows up later on. More importantly you will feel more relaxed now that they are not expecting a world-class presentation.  

 

Focus on your positives: Don’t attempt to be a master at public speaking. Concentrate on your strengths and divert attention away from your negatives. If comedy is your strong point, play it up. If body language is your weakness, stay behind the podium and use the power of your voice to captivate your audience.

 

Make a strong start: Tell your audience in one sentence what you are going to tell them. At the end you should then tell them what you told them in the same way. Start off well and you’ll hold on to your audience’s attention for the rest of the speech. Make them curios, provoke their interests, and be a little controversial. Grab their attention from the beginning.

 

Personalize your speech: Pepper your material with small personal anecdotes or other stories that will hold the attention of the audience. Everyone loves a good story.

 

Interact with the audience: The best way to get your audience involved in your speech is to interact with them. Ask them questions and invite them to ask some of you.

 

Don’t lecture: Talk, don’t instruct. Use language that the audience will understand instead of trying to sound important with jargon and fancy words.

 

Use Visual aids wisely: Some PowerPoint presentations too often resemble a school play - very loud, very slow, and very simple. PowerPoint and other visual effects should help your words, not overpower them. A speech that relies completely on visual aids turns attention away from the speaker. Use aides for details or things you cannot explain with words. And remember: Saying something stupid with powerpoint just takes more time to say something stupid.

 

Don’t apologize for mistakes: It’s alright to mess up a few times. Move on right away without distraction. Just give the audience a quick “sorry” or "excuse me".

 

Make mistakes on purpose: This is another trick but it works. The idea is to do something like dropping your notes on the floor. While picking them up you can warn them that the presentation will be be a bit confused. This usually gets a laugh. This way you gain control of your audience making them laugh and become more interactive with you. This gives your presentation a casual feel and relaxes the audience.

 

Keep it short and pause once in a while: You want your speech to wow your audience, not have them checking the time. Gauge their reaction: if they’re restless, wind it up. Nothing is worse than having to stop your speech short. Make allowances for occurrences such as audience interaction or technical difficulties. If you find yourself running late, know beforehand what you can afford to omit. In case you run short, be prepared with additional material that goes with the flow of your speech. Pause - Allow yourself and your audience a little time to reflect and think. Don't race through your presentation and leave your audience, as well as yourself, feeling out of breath.

 

Don’t argue: If there’s a troublemaker in the crowd who’s bent on arguing with you, don’t get sucked in. Arguing with one individual to make a point is a waste of time. The audience will get restless and your speech will lose its punch. Ask the troublemaker to talk to you afterwards.

 

Finish well: Work on a good closing; the finish should not be abrupt or leave the audience wondering if there’s more to come. Try to end on a high note so that the crowd will remember you long after the room is empty.

 

To be able to stand up, command an audience, get your point across and to be memorable and entertaining are things that you rarely see today. Why not try and see for yourself?

©2011:timtim.com & Tim Newlin

 

 

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