percent of everything you say is what you LOOK like when you
speak. Thirty-eight percent more is in how you actually DELIVER
the information and only seven percent is what you say. This
is not to say that content is not important; rather, it needs
to be streamlined and well planned. More importantly, since
ninety-three percent of the communication is physical, the
actions of the presenter become a critical part of the communication
that either distracts from or adds value to the seven percent.
Here are five actions to ensure that your presentation delivery adds value
to your message.
1. Establish and Anchor
When presenting with visual support, you need to set an anchor for the audience
to watch and read. Anchor your body to the same side as the starting point to
read the language (i.e., left to right or right to left).
For presentations in English (and many other languages), you must stand on
the LEFT SIDE of the room that is, the left side from the audience point
of view. In the English language, we read words from left to right. The eye
is less distracted if it sees the presenter speaking from the left, then glances
slightly to the right to read the visual (left to right) and then returns to
view the speaker again.
2. Build a Triangle
While standing at a fixed distance from your display equipment, draw an imaginary
line from the eyes of the person sitting on your far right, to the screen. This
becomes the long end of the triangle, an angled wall. From each end of this
line, draw two lines meeting at a 90º angle to complete the shape behind you.
This puts you inside a large triangle. Using the "angled-wall" as
a boundary, simply move along the wall without penetrating it. If you step through
the wall, people on your right will not be able to see the screen.
There are only three positions of the triangle: the front, near the audience;
the middle, where you should be most of the time; and the back, near the screen.
You need to move to these points periodically and with authority. Choose the
back of the triangle when the visual is complex and the front of the triangle
when you want a closer connection with the audience.
3. Play the Angles
The positions of your shoulders also enhance communication. For most of your
talk you should be at a 45º angle to the audience. To create the angle, point
your shoulders to the opposite corner of the room. This is a REST position.
It establishes a non-threatening stance for the audience and opens your body
to the screen when you need to gesture or move.
When you square your shoulders to the back wall of the room, you move into
the POWER position. It's a signal that the information being communicated is
of greater importance. But don't stay in the POWER position too long or the
effectiveness will diminish.
When you understand how body language communicates to the audience, you'll
realize that choreography (movement) drives content. Decide where in the triangle
you want to deliver certain points, then see if your visual design (simple or
complex) supports your presentation. If it doesn't, change the visual content,
since it represents only 7% of the communication.
4. Please the Crowd
Making eye contact is critical to your credibility and the audiences comfort.
The less time you spend looking at people, the less effective you will be. Talk
to people, not to objects like the equipment, the screen or the exit sign.
Natural pauses between your sentences give you a chance to make eye contact,
breathe or even think. Phrasing and pausing allow for smooth transitions and
more consistent delivery.
Finally, smile. If you are not having a good time presenting, how can anyone
have a good time watching? It only takes two muscles to smile.
5. Lend a Hand
The best gesture you can make as a presenter is "reaching out." When
the palm faces up as the arm extends out to the audience it is a very friendly
move. Be aware that the audiences eyes travel wherever your hands move.
When your hands aren't moving, avoid bringing them together and simply let them
rest at your sides. Use your left hand to gesture to the screen to help guide
the eyes of your audience to specific points in your content.
To That End
These five points represent a small part of the mechanics
of presenting. You must also pay attention to other elements
such as vocalizing, controlling room setup and working with
the technology. Our seminars and one-to-one coaching sessions
emphasize the importance of action in delivering information.
By reducing distractions of the body and working on movement,
we ensure that the content can be better understood. The book
Purpose, Movement, Color (MediaNet), the book Special
Edition Using Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 (Macmillan) and
the CD The Art of Presenting are publications which
discuss these presentation skill issues in depth. For more
information and a free tip-of-the-week, visit our web site
About Tom Mucciolo
Tom Mucciolo, president of MediaNet,
is a recognized industry expert regarding visual communications
and business presentations. He has served as a presentation
skills consultant for major corporations since 1985, concentrating
on the script, visuals and delivery associated with presentations,
especially electronic events. High-profile communicators,
including corporate leaders, politicians, media personalities,
as well as those at any organizational level, demand his coaching