Written on: January 30, 2018
by Elisa Coleclough
♥”If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you are giving up your potential” – Warren Buffet♥
I thought about writing this post after a couple of weeks ago I attended a presentation in which the host, an authority in his topic could never connect with the audience and actually failed to realize that everyone in the first row were dozing off, not to mention the ones sitting in the back rows.
As I said before the presenter was indeed a very knowledgeable man in his field, and if he had connected to his audience it would have been a great exposition. He lacked presentation skills and the ability to communicate his valuable knowledge whatsoever.
What happened? Mainly, presenter’s voice pitch was very low and he spoke too slow, literally rocking off you to sleep. He also failed to change his posture, stand or move around the scenario, move his hands or even look at the audience; he was sitting with his face was buried in this computer screen reading his notes explaining economics and energy vectors.
I believe by now you are getting the picture of what happened. I thought after the presentation that each one of us sometimes fails to see exactly where we could improve and how we really could connect with those around us. The fact that we can be articulated, simple and agreeable opens doors and makes that people pays attention to what it is being said.
On the other hand, let me give you a different example, a friend of mine, Bobby, was a very brilliant young scientist (he passed away several years ago, and please do not imagine he was old because he was only 27 years old at that time).
Bobby was very good at presentations, he often presented before large groups and the way he created rapport with the audience was remarkable, starting with the fact wherever in the room you were sitting, people felt he was looking to them. Some people have this talent to speak publicly natural, others get to learn it. Let me tell you that my friend actually got to learn it, so can everybody.
Let us have a closer look at some differences between Bobby and the presenter. It is obvious that both of them are knowledgeable in their fields, however they communication styles make a big difference.
Furthermore, I remember I and my friends would approach Bobby with doubts about chemistry or physics assignments, as those were his majors, he would quickly and brilliantly explain to us practically any concept and left me thinking “it is so damned obvious that I am not sure how I did not see it before”. He was brilliant in both senses his IQ, and his communication skills. He was able to bring very complex ideas to common words and make them understand to a 15year old guys.
If you want to bring your message across, whether it is computing science, economics, physics or simply a work presentation, here are hints and examples that can help:
- Availability – Choose to spend time with others. Sometimes is not possible to spend as much time as we would like with others, however being available for questions, chats, and offering our help and support to others is vital. Leaders have to be helpful to their teams.
- Listening – Listen your way to common ground. Bobby knew his audiences well enough to adapt his speech to them and be understood thus connect. Understanding your audience is caring about them and also being helpful. In the case of the presenter he did not care his audience were not academics in his field, though his concepts were not helpful. Had he tailored his information, it would have caught the audience because relevant information was being provided.
- Questions – Be interested enough in others to ask questions. Presenter never asked questions, not even rhetorical ones, or checked to ses if the audience was engaged in the least. Bobby observed closely as he explained to see if audience or my friends and I were nodding or simply puzzled, in which case he would rephrase with a simpler example.
- Thoughtfulness – Think of others and look for ways to help them. Presenter was there to deliver his speech; he was not interested if the concepts or knowledge being provided was understood or even helpful to the audience. Bobby knew our need was to be able to solve exercises and understand simple concepts so he tailored his teaching so it was helpful and achieved final objective, homework done, test approved.
- Openness – Let people into your life. When you want to connect with people, you listen, understand their needs, have a goal in mind, checkup for rapport, try to be likeable and above all want to be part of their lives, even if for a moment, you are there in their minds.
- Likeability – Care about people. Presenter did not care to look at the audience, or even move from his place, by doing that his body language said “I don’t care about you, whether you nod off or pay attention is all the same to me”. Was he expected to be liked? Did he ever smiled, or attempted any light hearted joke to “wake up the audience”? no, not at all.
- Humility – Think of yourself less so you can think of others more. Maybe it is not the case, but the presenter seemed to disdainful to me. However smart or knowledgeable he was, I would not go afterwards with him and have word. Instead I remember people would approach my friend for questions or information. We all want to be the person who is approachable and likeable, don’t we?
- Adaptability – Move from your world to theirs. It is essential we do that, it implies moving out of our comfort zone, however the rewards are grand. I do not have children but I know that my friends who do, help their children with homework and school assignments, they know how important is to be use the appropriate communication in style, set of words and attitudes for their kids to understand. The same applies to the speaker, in order to create rapport needs to understand the public and tailor his speech.
Awareness of the right attitudes towards public speaking gives us great advantage. As it was mentioned earlier, speaking is an asset, and speaking fluently and connecting with the audience is an art, the good point is it is a skill which can be learned. Finally, keep in mind:
♣”The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm” – John C. Maxwell♣
I really hope the above can make your public speaking easier.
Have a great day/week, Eli