A Presentation is always the combination of 2 things: WHAT is being Presented and HOW it is being presented! Often there is an imbalance in the attention given to these two aspects and it is weighted in the direction of Content.
Over-focusing on Content (trying to be exact, perfect, or overly thorough) leads to a couple of common Public Speaking Mistakes that disconnect Speakers from their audiences such as: Death by Powerpoint, Death by Memorization/Forgetting and Death by Voice/Non-Verbal!
In THIS post, I want to elaborate a bit more on how important Non-Verbal Communication is to the Public Speaker. It seems a bit ironic on surface that “speaking” is so influenced by “non-speaking” but it is!
In the 1960s Professor Albert Mehrabian (UCLA) conducted studies that ultimately concluded communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal. While the existence of a “7% rule” is debate-able (see, for example Philip Yaffe’s debunking), AND while I am certainly NOT suggesting that any given speech be “dis-organized or confused” from a content perspective, I DO dis-agree with Yaffe as to the “primary vs. auxiliary” impact of non-verbal communication in Public Speaking.
Be clear that no matter how exact, profound or important your content is, you cannot ignore the importance of the following Non-Verbal aspects of Delivery:
- Eye-Contact: If you fail to make eye-contact (sustained not shifty) with large portions of your audience…or if you ONLY make eye-contact with one person in/portion of your audience…and especially if you are only making eye-contact with your notes, script, teleprompter or powerpoint…your Speaker effectiveness will suffer!
- Posture: If you are facing the screen your powerpoint projects onto instead of your audience or if you are leaning, slouching, “rocking/swaying” or incongruent with your posture when you ARE facing your audience… your Speaker effectiveness will suffer!
- Movement: If you stand in one place for most of or, worse yet, the entire speech when you have space to move around and increase the intimacy with various portions of your audience (center, middle, right, front or back)…your Speaker effectiveness will suffer!
- Vocalics: If your voice is mono-toned or “stripped” of natural emotional inflections due to the “reading” from a powerpoint, notes/script or teleprompter…or, worse yet, if you speak with the tone of “an instructor” of your information speaking down to your audience (vs. “a promoter” of your information speaking with your audience)… your Speaker effectiveness will suffer!
- Gestures & Expressions: Beyond “appropriate gestures”, if your hands and face are not animated in a way that reflect your own excitement for and knowledge of the content… your Speaker effectiveness will suffer!
- Time: It is easy to forget that time and our usage of it is a form of non-verbal communication. If your rate of speech is off-putting to your audience (too fast OR too slow) OR if your speech is running long and you fail to manage the time properly OR if your audience wants Q&A but you either don’t notice or choose not to make time for it (in favor of delivering more content/getting through your slides)… your Speaker effectiveness will suffer!
For over 17 years I have been teaching an 8-Step Process for preparing to speak conversationally, without fear and with a balance of attention paid to Content AND Delivery…specifically a conversational delivery that creates the greatest connection between speaker and audience.
Download my FREE E-book: The 5th Step to Fearless Public Speaking TODAY to begin preparing for fearless Presentations that allow you to be yourself, confident and engaging Non-Verbally!
To Your Success…Be Fearless, my friends!
Jeffrey Klubeck, M.A.