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What is Your <i>Verbal</i> Image?

Virtual Presentations Present Challenges Verbal Presentation Challenges, and similar products, feature the ability to hold meetings, webinars, and training over the internet.

These tools have amazing benefits for participants and the presenter(s).  They allow many people, from different locations, to come together for the on-line event.  But like most tools, there are some tradeoffs.  The biggest one is the inability, in most cases and the one this Post addresses, to use all your nonverbal presentation skills and “take the temperature” of the audience as you can in a live, on-site venue.

Nonverbal communication reinforces, or not, the words we say.

Nonverbal communication trumps verbal communication.  Not seeing facial expressions, gestures, and body movements can be a huge hurdle.  It’s important, throughout a presentation, to constantly “take the temperature” of the audience to “see” if they are GETTING IT!, i.e. understanding your message.  The nonverbal messages we look for when doing in-person talks are not as available, if at all, over the web. I was once present at an online presentation where the presenter asked about something specific on slide # 22. The response was, “What slide?”  The individual giving the presentation had gone through 30 minutes and 19 slides before realizing the participants had a blank screen!

That situation can be avoided by having a checklist and going over it before proceeding with a conference.  Online conferencing products will indicate who is on-line, but they usually can’t tell how attentive they are.  Think about most presentations where the audience is asked to turn off their cell phones and blackberries so they, and audience members are not distracted.  This can’t be enforced when presenting on-line and can be challenging.

Exercises like taking polls and calling on individuals to answer questions are two strategies that can help.  Also, the ability to communicate with individuals via built-in chat, gives the presenter options for sending and receiving questions and other information pertinent to the event.

An important tool in presentations on line is the use of a high quality microphone.  People will watch poor video, but won’t listen to poor audio.  This holds true for online seminars and meetings, too.  Also, keep noise, other than your voice and relavent sounds, out of the presentation.

Since your Nonverbal Communications may not be viewable by participants, all the elements of Verbal Communication take on added importance.  They must be top-of-mind and fine-tuned when these on-line events take place.

Verbal Communication Elements are:

  1. Pronunciation and Enunciation

  2. You can’t gesture what you mean, so speaking clearly and distinctly, using that high quality microphone, is imperative.

  3. Projection

  4. Speak at a consistent volume.  If recipients have to keep adjusting the volume of their speakers up or down, they’ll turn them off!

  5. Inflection

  6. Give emphasis to specific words in your sentences when you want to make a point.

  7. Do not speak in a monotone, RTD2, style.  (You’ll put the audience asleep!)

  8. Cadence

  9. Vary the speed of your delivery.  Do not talk too quickly, nor too slowly.  Both extremes will lose the attention of the audience.

  10. Pause

  11. Pausing gives the audience an opportunity to absorb your message. It’s a necessary part of delivery, and often tough to do because nervousness can cause us to fill the dead air with our voice.  Pause!

Visuals take on added importance in on-line training if they can’t see YOU!

Here are some suggestions for using them:

  1. Use high quality graphics that are the correct resolution.

  2. Not much is worse than looking at a thumbnail image that has been stretched to fill a screen.

  3. Use graphics that are universally interpreted the same by all.

  4. If they are saying, “What is this?” you aren’t communicating.

  5. If participants see something “in” the image that others don’t, you’re not delivering the same message to everyone.

  6. Use one or two graphics per slide, and make them large

  7. As with PowerPoint, don’t use lots of bullet points.

  8. Bullet Points do not reinforce!

  9. They confuse, compete and complicate the message.

  10. People read at differing speeds.

  11. There is evidence that text on a screen has the same effect on the mind as graphics.  Too many = confusion.

  12. You supply the text!

  13. After the presentation, you can email a PDF with all the text and relevant pictures.

About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, an author and a coach. Businesses and individuals hire him because they want to improve their Public Speaking and Presentation Skills. They do this because we perceive really great speakers to be Experts. Perception is reality and we rather deal with Experts. He shows them how to Develop, Practice and Deliver Knock Your Socks Off Presentations! with – No Sweat!

Fred E. Miller photo credit: pfinette

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