Speaking effectively to your audience

Published: Tuesday, March 04, 2008

This month "Tips for Training Success" discusses how you can improve your presentations skills to speak more effectively to your audience.

Once you are actually in the room with your audience, you must focus on delivering the most engaging presentation possible. You will achieve your best performance if you speak effectively, project a positive image, and keep your audience engaged. Remember, your presentation is not about you, but about what you are offering to support and inspire your audience. Here are some suggestions:

  • Make your presentation conversational.
  • Know your audience.
  • Avoid the use of jargon or terms that may be unfamiliar to the audience.
  • Watch the audience for non-verbal clues about their response.
  • Breathe. It helps you relax and reduces filter language such as “um” and “er”.

To use your voice to it’s best advantage, keep its tone natural and conversational. Avoid yelling or talking too loud into the microphone which could turn people off. However, do speak loudly enough for everyone. In most cases, you can do this by speaking to the most distant person in the room. Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid raid fire or drawn out speech. Practice with a colleague or team member to get feedback.
  • Be expressive. Don’t speak in monotone. Raise and lower your voice to make your point.
  • Enunciate and pronounce words clearly.

It’s also important to remember to not to interrupt a team member when they are facilitating or presenting to the audience. Interrupting a team member can cause them to lose track of their thoughts. In addition, it also confuses the audience in terms of who is in charge. If you feel that something need to be said to your team member, one should:

  • Make a note of your thoughts and speak to your team members after their presentation so that they can make a note of the information the next time they are presenting; or
  • If you are facilitating and you are not sure of the answer, you can call on a team member for help or let the audience know that you will get the information and report back to them later during the day.
  • It’s also a good idea to place difficult questions or questions that you may not have the answer to at the time on a “Parking Lot” easel or pull information from your audience.

In closing, remember there are ways to present a positive image to your audience. Your confidence in and commitment to your message are reflected by your demeanor and body language. To optimize your effectiveness, make sure to do the following:

  • Project confidence through your dress and presence.
  • Make sure your facial expressions convey interest in the audience. If you are too nervous to look at the entire audience, focus on individuals instead.
  • Make and maintain eye contact with audience members at all times.
  • Be humorous when possible.

Tips for Presenting Effectively:

  • Do not talk from a script. Talk from notes. There is a difference.
  • Face your audience and make eye contact.
  • When you want control or more involvement, or to become one of the group, walk around your audience. Depending on your personality, you may reach out and touch them.
  • Use gestures in a relaxed and normal way.
  • Use your voice effectively.
  • Keep your focus on your message and on your audience.

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