In the previous post, on speaking and microphones we looked at how speakers need to work with microphones. If you have not checked it out, I suggest you do. While speaking is the primary medium of communication, a lot more contributes to it. Being a great speaker involves more that just actual speaking but everything else affecting it.
Platform communicators often make the mistake of only focusing on their message in preparation. Do not get me wrong, it is of utmost importance that the platform communicator prepares his message and presentation well, but he must remember that is not the only thing he needs to prepare.
Speakers, like anyone else can deliver better when they understand their tools
Slides and Screens
Imagine a mechanic who knows that your car needs an engine overhaul of sort. Would you get worried if the mechanic showed up with a pic and a shovel? Absurd, right? Nothing is as annoying as a speaker that does not know how his tools work. After writing out your message or talk, you might create slides in PowerPoint or, my preference, Keynote.
It is important that you get to know the program you use for your slides fairly well. I mean more than just inserting new slides, text, images and video. Know how to change certain overall editing features in the programs you use. Murphy’s law has it that you will make changes before you talk but may need to make global changes to the slide.
Another thing ensure you know is what screen / display mode you want to use in your computer and how to plug in a secondary monitor or projector to your computer. It is sad that everywhere you are going to speak may not have the expertise. At least learn to set up your own laptop to an external display.
Speaker, ignorance is not bliss, it can easily jeopardize your delivery, shifting focus from what you want people to take away to tools that should be enabling.
If you have your own projector, sound and stand, make sure you know as much as there is to know about them, so that you keep the main the thing main thing: getting your message across.
Know your tools. It is distracting when a speaker has to first look at his remote every time he has to advance a slide. It gets worse when he or she looks intently for what feels like eternity. To make it worse it gets in the way of your flow when you make too many comments about your tools when you should be focusing on the message you should be propagating. Do not talk about how weird the remote is, talk about what you there to talk about.
Get your own remote, that you get to know very well if you it is challenge for you to learn new ones in a very short time
If you use say, your phone as a remote, make sure that you have placed it in flight mode so that it does not ring in the middle of your talk. Also, if you need to look at it before you advance slides, try to do so tactfully.
When you speak, your audience’s attention is on you and what you are trying to communicate. When you shift your attention to something else while your audience is focused on you, the message becomes secondary and compromised.
Is It A Bird Or A Plane?
Stop it. Stop looking back at your screen all the time; it makes me wonder what is wrong with it. And I am sure I am not the only one. If you can use your computer in front of you, check the screen from your computer. You can check out the projected screen tactfully as you move across the platform.
And, whatever you do, do not read out the slide your audience is looking at, word for word. Rather give your audience the notes and walk off stage if the greater part of your presentation is reading out what you have placed on the screen they are looking at.
When a speaker gives a lot of attention to the projected screen, it becomes the center of attention and not his message
If you are not using a microphone looking back as you speak negatively affects your audibility. Never give your audience your back when you are not using a microphone, instead pause from speaking and continue when you are facing your audience.
If you haven’t already, I recommend you also check out:
What annoys you about speakers and their tools? Any advice to help me and other platform communicators?