There are several blogs and articles for students as well as professionals providing very good tips and tools on making effective presentations. They have catchy headers such as Death by PowerPoint, making your presentation rock and so on. High quality workshops too are useful to teach the participants these skills.
I wish to share in a concise form a few of my observations on what makes or mars a presentation or a speech. This is based on my experience in witnessing large number of presentations made on different topics.
All the presenters had been taught these skills in classrooms or attended workshops previously. I do not intend including the basics to avoid making it tedious.
What is the key differentiation between a good or a poor presentation?
When we ask someone from the audience to give their assessment of the presentation they generally rate it as excellent, good or average based on great communication skills, high confidence levels, language proficiency, eye contact and body language. When these elements are missing it is rated as an average or weak performance.
I believe a key factor that determines the value of presentation is when the speaker makes an ‘impact in the hearts and minds of the audience’. This is revealed from the intense expressions of the audience who listen with rapt attention all through. It’s almost like being fascinated.
What really brings in this effect? Have such speakers developed certain abilities that go deeper than skills? A few of my observation on the traits of a good presenter are penned below:
1. When such a speaker comes to the dais you see a radiant smiling face. This I have noticed as a characteristic of the person from the start to the end.
2. He or she looks fresh, natural and relaxed.
3. The speaker views the audience with an expression of genuine interest. Making each individual feel connected to the speaker.
4. The way he/she enunciates the preamble (or objective) of the topic each listener feels this person will share insights that will help them immensely. The audience feels at ease.
5. When he explains complex issues it is done in a simple, friendly and easy way. Yet the wisdom in it can be felt. Even at such times a flicker of a smile and a tinge of humor is present.
6. The thrust of the entire talk hinges on one central theme. The audience therefore remains focused.
7. Questions from the audience flow out spontaneously and are answered with genuine interest. The knowledge of the speaker is revealed subtly without being overbearing.
8. The greatness of such speakers becomes more pronounced in the way he/she answers even frivolous or irrelevant questions with tact, clarity and firmness.
9. The maximum impact perhaps comes when a speaker’s speech is an amalgam of confidence and humility. He is disarmingly frank and accepts views from the audience with respect and admits that he does not have all the answers. The following quote illustrates this – “We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.” – Rabindranath Tagore. (Indian Poet, Playwright and Essayist, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913)
10. You may recall the speeches of some great speakers like Barrack Obama the President of USA
as having some the above characteristics. At the end of the speech the audience experiences a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment
Please do share your own views and opinions on what makes a good presentation or a great speech. Are people gifted Or can one hope to acquire such abilities with practice and training. What special emphasis do trainers need to incorporate in their programs to achieve excellence?