Today is Thursday, so this post is on communication skills; more specifically, presentation skills
Interacting with your audience is a great way to make your presentations come alive. I always advise my presentation skills coaching clients to move away from the podium and their laptop when they are giving a presentation. Stand up and move around. They say, “I can’t do that. I have to be near my computer so I can advance my slides.”
My answer: spend a few bucks and buy yourself an RF (radio frequency) remote device. This type of device will let you advance slides from anywhere in the room. Don’t get an IF (Infrared Frequency) device. If you’re using an IF device, you have to physically point the remote at the plug-in on your computer. You have to have a direct line of site. On the other hand, an RF device sends radio waves that work in a 360-degree pattern. You don’t have to point it at your computer to advance the slides.
The point here is that effective presenters move around the room and interact with their audience. Standing behind a podium advancing slides by using the up and down arrows on your laptop minimizes the type of audience interaction necessary for a good presentation.
A U-shaped set of tables is the most typical seating arrangement for meetings where presentations are going to be made. I always make it a point to walk into the U and make eye contact with people all around it as I speak. In this way, I am inviting them to be present and engage with what I am saying.
I don’t stand at the base of the U very long, because then my back is to a large part of the audience. Instead, I move on a vertical diagonal into and out of the U. If I am standing at the right front, I move to the left rear as I am speaking. I back straight out, and then move from the left front to the right rear. Once I’ve done this circuit, I spend time in the front of the room moving from side to side.
When someone asks me a question, I approach him or her, making eye contact. I repeat the question – to make sure I’ve heard it correctly, and to make sure that everyone else in the audience hears it. Then I answer. Many times, especially if an opinion is called for, or if I believe other people in the audience have the answer to the question, I’ll say something like, “I’ll tell you what I think in a minute, but first I’d like to hear what other people think.” I always give my answer after one or more people speak – after all, I promised I would. If I agree 100% with something someone else has said, I merely say, “I agree with Sue.” If I have something else to add, I’ll say, “Those are some great points, but here is how I look at it.”
When people are answering a question I’ve posed or responding to my invitation to comment on something, I always walk toward them, making eye contact. When they have finished, I’ll turn to the person who asked the question to see what he or she seems to be thinking about what he or she is hearing.
Moving into the U, making eye contact with everyone, and bringing other people into the discussion make my presentations more lively and enjoyable – for me and for the people in attendance.
This is all made possible by technology – an RF remote device. Sure, I could still move into the U and toward people asking questions if I had to advance the slides manually. However, my presentation would be awkward, not smooth.
One last thing about RF remote devices – they make it easy to go back to slides you’ve previously covered. If someone asks me a question when I’m half way down the U, and it’s something that I mentioned two slides previously, I can stay where I am, go two slides back, and answer the question. Again, the presentation has a smooth look and feel when I do so.
The common sense point to all of this: if you’re going to be making a lot of presentations, invest in an RF remote device to advance your slides. You and your audiences will be glad you did.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense. Check out my other blog: www.CommonSenseGuy.com for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business, and to get an electronic copy of my book 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations.
I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
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