Fifty-five 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 90 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 45 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 audience’s 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 audience’s 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 at www.medianet-ny.com.

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 expertise.


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