“Winging it” won’t Improve your next Presentation–Try Practicing Your Compelling Message.


Having been a presentation and communication coach for thirty plus years it is obvious to me that a speaker’s message is important. Because if you don’t have a message why give the speech. The most powerful message needs to be clear, concise and compelling. Yet the truth is that most people listen and understand the meaning and importance of a message with their eyes. Living in Texas for a few years I saw a great example when the Texas Department of Transportation coin a powerful and visual slogan for encouraging the citzen’s of Texas not to litter–”Don’t Mess with Texas”  The main feature of the campaign were the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Astro players making an emotional appeal to good old boys and others to not mess up the environment. The campaign reduced roadside litter by 29%. I guess real men don’t throw beer cans out the car window.

How many presentations and lectures have you heard? Let’s say 3000-5000. Of these speeches and presentations how many were truly extraordinary? How many do you remember? How many changed your behavior? I’ve asked  my clients and students this question for many years. Their answer is that they could count them on one hand. The critical question then becomes–What are the factors that make these presenters or speeches memorable and extraordinary ?

1. Being comfortable within your own skin –calm and confident presence is important . It signals to the audience your confidence and credibility.  And therefore,  perceived as comfortable, genuine,  and natural when speaking.

2. Being inspirational and connecting in unique ways so that people can relate and trust you and what you are saying.

3. Saying something that is relevant and important to their life and situations demonstrate your sensitivity and empathy.

In the next few posts, I will review Dr. Albert Mehrabian communication research that is presented in his book, Silent Messages . The book highlights the importance of verbal and non-verbal messages  used to enhance a speaker’s awareness of the subtle aspects of interpersonal communication and improve one’s ability to make unique connections with audience members. The author divides communication skills into three critical factors that we must be aware of  when presenting : verbal message, vocals (volume and inflections such as warmth and sarcasm) and non-verbal body language and presence.  It might surprise many of you that only a small 7 % of our words are truly understood or hit our objective.  Vocal (volume/tone etc.) which goes beyond the words have a greater impact of 38% of the audience. The majority of what we are trying to say is communicated through our non-verbal or visual impact 55%. So in trying to connect and being liked by others our biggest challenge is to have our words, tone and non-verbal signals aligned so that we are perceived as authentic. Stay tuned for more…

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