Along with ‘knowledge of the audience’ a presenter skilled at using delivery techniques is recognised as one of the two most important characteristics based on my research of effective business presentations (you can read about the research here)
The simple principle (and anyone who’s attended a presentation they loved, and one they truly didn’t, will know this) is that the way a presentation is delivered has a direct impact on the way the audience receives what is said. Fairly obvious I guess but the question is…
What are Delivery Techniques?
There are four key areas. The first relates to managing nerves or ‘stage fright’ and generally involves developing techniques for managing negative self talk, positive visualisation and physical self management such as breathing exercises.
The second area relates to what is sometimes termed ‘voice work’ and encompasses techniques to effectively utilise volume, pitch, resonance, articulation, pace, modulation and phrasing.
The third area is, in my view, crucial and relates to:
The Crucial Presentation Technique: Rehearsal and feedback
As part of the development and improvement of the presenter’s delivery, the importance of both rehearsing a presentation and receiving feedback featured in each and every one of the books, training programmes and interviews I used in my research. On that basis it’s not difficult to make the argument that the most significant of all the characteristics I’ve identified is that the presentation has been rehearsed and that the presenter has received feedback on their delivery techniques. The key issue is summarised by Nick Morgan in ‘Presentations. Sharpen Your Message, Persuade Your Audience, Gauge Your Impact’ when he presents the highly pragmatic question ‘When would you like to learn about the holes, the dull spots, the excessive details in your presentation – before or after it’s been delivered?’.
Implicit within the rehearsal is that there will be some evaluation of the presentation either from:
- a live audience invited specifically for that purpose or
- self-evaluation using, typically, video or audio.
The fourth area relates to developing positive body language and mainly addresses what to avoid; repetitive gestures (stroking, tapping, hugging), reading from slides and negative posture (slouching, crossing arms and legs, turning your back to the audience – anything that’s guaranteed to annoy!).
Looping back to the point above on feedback, it’s generally these body language issues that you’ll find out about if you watch yourself!
What about your presentation techniques?
So, maybe here’s the most useful question I could ask; when did you last see yourself presenting? Or maybe; when did you last get some specific feedback on your voice work or body language? Or; when did you last take some time to look at techniques for managing your nerves?
In the next blog in this series we’ll look at knowing your audience