Whether you are giving a speech, leading a workshop, or talking one-to-one with a colleague, your goal is to be a clear and effective communicator.
The secret of good communication is remembering that the audience is more important than the topic. So: "Seek first to understand, then be understood."
People want you to care about them, and most of them hunger for honest information from someone who tells the truth in plain language.
All communication is really one-to-one. Even speaking to an audience means speaking to a collection of individuals.
Show people you care by helping them to see the meaning and value of the information you are sharing and how it affects their professional lives.
The following are helpful hints on planning, preparing, and presenting a message to a group of individuals.
Planning Your Message
· Who is in the audience?
· What do they have in common?
· What are their wants, worries, and questions?
· How long do you have?
· What is your own purpose? What response do you want from them when you finish?
Consider the learning styles of your audience, assessing them beforehand if you have time.
· In 25 words or less, what is the most important thing you want the audience to remember or do as a result of your communication?
Remember the success triangle: Your training should meet the three goals: Clear, Capable, and Motivated.
3. Visual Aids
· Will you use visual aids?
· What kind? (PowerPoint, flip chart, whiteborad etc)
· Will you use props and/or printed handouts?
Again, the learning styles of the audience should all be met.
Preparing your Message
When beginning your presentation, plan to:
· Greet people warmly.
· Get the attention of your audience—state a question or share a personal experience.
· Preview what is coming— promise people what they will get from listening to you or talking with you.
· Let people know if you want to hear questions during or after your presentation.
Positivity and enthusiasm are key to selling yourself at the start of training.
5. Presentation Body
You can build your presentation around different organizing themes such as:
· The questions your audience is likely to have.
· A time structure (past, present, future).
· A problem-solution approach (your subject today, the problem, solution(s), benefits).
· A decision-making approach (state an opinion or suggestion, offer an opposite view, give evidence to support the first opinion or suggestion, and restate it in a new way).
If you use statistics:
· Don’t overuse them.
· Give a source.
· Use up-to-date information.
· Round up or down.
· Present numbers visually if over four figures long.
· Turn facts into pictures when possible.
As you speak, illustrate your points by sharing examples.
When concluding your presentation, plan to:
· Summarise the main points.
· Invite or encourage people to act—to put what they have learned into practice.
· Suggest some next steps they can take to learn more about their topic; ask participants for ideas about how they can learn more.
· Write a strong final line that alerts people that you are finished and ends your presentation on a positive note of hope.
· End on time.
Presenting Your Message
Use your plans from #4 under Preparing Your Message. In addition:
· Speak in short phrases in terms your audience understands.
· Emphasise key ideas.
· Define and translate technical terms and statistics.
· Use a conversational tone of voice.
· Control the volume of your voice.
· Involve your audience with questions, handouts, or interactive exercises.
· Show respect for each person during the question-and-answer period.
· Be courteous to hostile or difficult individuals.
· Repeat all questions before answering them in a large group.
8. Body Language
· Stand rather than sit while speaking.
· If standing, plant your feet firmly on the floor; stand tall.
· Stand at ease and show a friendly face.
· If you are sitting when you speak, lean forward slightly,from the waist with a straight back.
· Use your hands to communicate.
· Look and see the audience when you speak to them.
· Convey energy and enthusiasm for the topic.