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7 Aspects Of A Dynamic Presentation
By Lenny Laskowski   Printer Friendly Version

There are 7 aspects people must deal with when preparing and delivering presentations. An effective speaker learns to deal with all 7 aspects at the same time. Failure to pay attention to all of these aspects can result in an inneffective presentation. Failure to pay attention to too many of these can result in disaster.

1. Speaker
2. Message
3. Audience
4. Channel
5. Feedback
6. Noise
7. Setting

ASPECT #1 - The Speaker

One of the major components of any speech or presentation is the speaker themself (the source of the message). Many people forget they THEY are the presentation and NOT the visual aids. Many presenters today put so much effort into the visual aids and they forget that those are just aids to the speaker.

There are three factors we need to consider about any speaker:

a. His / Her motivation in giving the presentation
b. His / Her credibility as a speaker
c. His / Her deliver or speaking style

a. A Speaker's motivation can be approached in terms of two considerations:

==> Whether direct personal reward (e.g. $$$) or indirect rewards (feeling good about helping others) are involved.
==> Whether immediate rewards ($$ today) r delayed rewards (getting a college degree after 4 years of college play a part.

In essence, a speaker may be motivated by one or BOTH of these factors. Before speaking you should consider what YOUR motivations are.

b. Speaker's credibility

A speaker's ideas are accepted as believable only to the degree that the speaker is perceived to be credible. The speaker's credibility depends on their trustworthiness, competence, and good will. The speaker who is well organized will usually be considered competent. The speaker who is attractive and dynamic will be seen as more credible than one who is not.

The most fundamental factor a speaker projects is the attitude they have toward themself.

c. Speaker's delivery

The delivery, the way the message is presented, should compliment the speech's objective. A well written speech delivered poorly can quickly lose effectiveness.

ASPECT #2 - The Message

The message refers to EVERYTHING a speaker does or says, both verbally and non-verbally. The verbal component may be analyzed in terms of 3 basic elements:

  • Content
  • Style
  • Structure

Let's look at each of these elements.

a. Content - is what we say about your topic. The content is the MEAT of your speech or presentation. Research your topic thoroughly. Decide on how much to say about each subject. Then decide on the catual sequence you will use. It is important that you consider the audience's needs, time factors, and other items as the content of your speech or presentation is prepared and presented.

b. Style - The manner in which your present the content of your speech is your style. Styles can vary from very formal to the very informal. Most presentations fall between these two extremes and in EVERY case, the style should be determined by what is appropriate to the speaker, the audience, as well as the occasion and setting.

c. Structure - The structure of a message is its organization. There are many organizational variations, but in each case, the structure should include:

  • An Introduction
  • A Body
  • A Conclusion

The introduction should include:

  • an opening grabber such as a quote or shocking statistic.
  • an agenda
  • the purpose or main message of your presentation.

The body should include:

  • your main points or ideas.
  • points which support your main message.

The conclusion should include:

  • a summary of your main points.
  • a closing grabber.
  • time for questions & answers, if appropriate.

When speeches and presentations are poorly organized, the impact of the message is reduced and the audience is less likely to accept the speaker or the speaker's ideas.

ASPECT #3 - The Audience

As a speaker you should analyze your listeners and then decide how to present your ideas. This analysis might include considerations related to:

- Age
- Sex
- Marital Status
- Race
- Geographic location
- Group membership
- Education
- Career

For example, if you are making a presentation on "Future Careers", knowing your audience's average age is vital. A well prepared speech that is ill-suited to the audience can have the same effect as a poorly prepared speech delivered to the correct audience. Both speeches will fail terribly.

Proper audience analysis will assure that you give the right speech to the right audience. To properly customize the speech, most professional speakers send their clients a multi-page questionnaire in order to gather information about them and their speaking event. I will usually call some of the members can find out what the current trends are in their industry and ask what people are looking for.

Using the word "A-U-D-I-E-N-C-E" as an acronym, I have defined some general audience analysis categories that your surveys should include:

A_udience - Who are the members? How many will be at the event?
U_nderstanding - What is their knowledge about the topic you will be addressing?
D_emographics - What is their age, sex, educational background, etc.?
I_nterest - Why will they be at this event? Who asked them to be there?
E_nvironment - Where will I stand when I speak? Will everyone be able to see me?
N_eeds - What are the listener's needs? What are your needs as a speaker? What are the needs of the person who hired you?
C_ustomized - How can I custom fit my message to this audience?
E_xpectations - What do the listeners expect to learn from me?

NOTE: See my article on Audience Analysis for a more detailed discussion on this topic. Also, my new book, "No Sweat Presentations - The Painless Way to Successful Speaking" provides some specific questions you could ask along with a sample questionnaire you can use.

ASPECT #4 - The Channel

When we communicate with our audiences, we use many channels of communication. This includes non-verbal, pictorial and aural channels.

It is very important that you use as many channels as you can to communicate with your audience. The more channels of communication you can use at the same time, the better. I have provided a brief list of examples for each of these types:

A. Nonverbal

1. gestures
2. facial expressions
3. body movement
4. posture

B. Pictorial

1. diagrams
2. charts
3. graphs
4. pictures
5. objects

C. Aural

1. tone of your voice
2. variations in pitch and volume
3. other vocal variety

ASPECT #5 - The Feedback

By "feedback" I mean the process through which the speaker receives information about how his or her message has been received by the listeners and, in turn, responds to those cues.

The feedback process is not complete until the speaker has responded to the listener. This process includes the listener's reactions to the speaker's response and so forth.

You can ask your audience questions and even ask them what their understanding is of the point you have just made. Watch for non-verbal clues from your audience and be prepared to respond to the ractions of your audience throughout your presentation.

It is your responsibility to provide the information your audience needs to hear. Many times, you many be asked my management to provide a specific message to their employees that they may not want to hear. Remember, it is the management that is paying your fee and you are responsible to deliver the message they hired you to deliver. At the same time, it is important that you are sensitive to the audience and try to establish a relationship with them through the use of your surveys, conversations during the social hour, and even discussions following your presentation.

ASPECT #6 - The Noise

There are two types of noise a speaker must contend with:

a. External Noise
b. Internal Noise

Let's look at each of these.

External Noise - consists of sounds, people talking, coughing, shifting patterns, poor acoustics, temperature (too warm, too cold), poor ventilation, and visual interference such as poor lighting, or an obstructed view.

Internal Noise - if a speaker is confused or unclear about what he or she want to express, this is do to internal noise. Internal noise can also arise if the speaker does not know or misanalyzes the audience.

The role of the audience and the speaker is to simultaneously communicate with each other. It is this transactional nature of speech that makes feedback, and attempts to eliminate noise, so important.

The most specific way a speaker can use to combat noise are:

a. Use more than one channel of communication at the same time (verbal & non-verbal)
b. Use repetition and restatement.

The speaker can help combat this noise by making an extra effort to use as many channels of communications at the same time. It is important to include both verbal and non-verbal means of communication.

ASPECT #7 - The Setting

The place in which you deliver your presentation may be one that enhances or interfers with the effectiveness of your presentation. Determine ahead of time what the facilities are like before you speak. This way you can properly plan your delivery or make adjustments, if necessary.

I recommend, when practical, that you make a trip to the location where your speech will take place. I even go so far as to ask the exact room I will be presenting in and ask the hotel conference coordinator to let me visit the room and check things out.

On one particular occasion, several years ago, I had visited a room about 1 month before I was to speak at a large association meeting and noticed the room WAS NOT equipped for a microphone. This was a problem since the attendance was expected to be about 800 to 1000 people. I checked with the hotel if there were any other rooms available that same day of the event and I contacted the client and informed them about the situation. The client contacted the hotel and was able to change the room for their event. It was my planning that saved both myself and my client some embarrassment had we not changed the room. I have since spoken for this same client every year for the past 4 years because of the attention to detail I provided as part of my planning when I first spoke for them. This little "extra" effort on my part made me memorable to the client.

Look at speaking engagement as opportunities to practice your speaking skills.

To be truly prepared and effective as a presenter, you must pay attention to all 7 of these aspects discussed above. This will take practice. The time you spend remembering these aspects will be worth the effort.

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