CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – August 5, 2020
Module Ten: Delivering Your Speech (II)
During the course of a presentation, you need to be aware of how things are going. Are people starting to lose interest? Do they need a break? Do you need to do something different to change the pace?
When it’s time to wrap up your presentation, you need to remind people of your basic message. You hope that a week from now, if someone asked the members of your audience they would be able to recall what your presentation was all about.
This is something that depends greatly upon the audience, but as you have no control over their reactions your job is simply to ensure that you get your message across as persuasively as you possibly can.
You will probably be given an allotted time to deliver your presentation, and it is a good idea to take this time and look at all the elements you need to cover. By doing this you can then divide the allotted time into shorter spells in which you can cover the topics in hand.
Adjusting on the Fly
Here are some adjustments you could make if the audience seemed to be losing interest:
Have a member of the audience come to the front of the room and help you with a demonstration.
Conduct an informal poll (“How many people think that…?”).
Introduce a brief, interesting digression (go off topic for two or three minutes).
Use a brief anecdote (preferably one that has something to do with your topic).
Each of the above adjustments has the advantage of offering a change of pace, and if your audience has given the appearance of losing interest these can turn that around by reminding the audience that there is a reason for them to listen.
Some audiences react to different things than others, and you will normally be able to tell what it is that your presentation lacks by reading the faces of your audience. If they look slightly pained and confused, it may be that you are speaking from a vocabulary with which they are unfamiliar. If they simply look bored, then it may be that you are not telling them anything new.
Involving the audience is something which, done carefully, can get a presentation right back on track when it has been threatening to lose their attention. From something as simple as not wanting to be called up to the front and exposed for their failure to pay attention, to something as enjoyable as the ability to participate in a genuinely interesting diversion, this will cause people to sit forward and become more interested in proceedings.
It may also be that you have been speaking excessively formally, and have appeared distanced and humorless. Obviously, a lot has gone into this presentation and you may well consider it to be “no laughing matter”, but a certain lightness of touch can make the presentation flow better and involve the audience more. It is wise to avoid disrespectful humor, but some light self-mocking can go a long way to getting the audience on your side.