Any danger your audience may slip into a coma?

Think of the conditions that prevailed last time you found yourself falling asleep driving your car.  Heater blowing hot air on your face, windscreen wipers creating a hypnotic rhythm, straight road ahead with no defining features on the landscape. How does this equate to your presentation style?  Have you developed techniques to keep your audience alert or could they slip into a coma any moment ?

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The point of the story is …

I think it happened when we were developing material for our first presentation skills programme.  Somewhere amongst the research or perhaps through interaction with colleagues, we began using the expression ‘competing for brain time’. This concept of competing for both attention and retention of information, has without doubt become even more relevant today … to the extent that we now seem to have our own internal trash can that we can that we drag and drop information into.  We only retain what we flag at the time as really important or useful.

When we stand up to present information or persuade others to follow a specific course of action, like it or not we are just a small part of a deluge of information our audience will experience, in any given day.  We are competing for brain-time more than ever.

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slam your presentation into top gear


If we start out tired, or get tired in the middle of delivering a lengthy presentation, we are all prone to losing our sparkle and we run the risk of our audience slipping into a presentation induced coma. In this episode Paul talks about techniques to bring your presentation to life, hold attention and hammer home important points

Sarah Kay … If I should have a daughter

Watching Sarah Kay perform, is a great reminder that for many of the presentations we all deliver, we need to do just that … ‘perform’.

Whilst Sarah is a spoken word poet, there are many aspects of her delivery that we can all learn from, to breathe life into our presentations … especially for larger audiences at conferences.  Sarah maintains a level of energy level in her performance that could light up a small city … and as a result, she certainly lights up the stage.

She also has an incredible sense of timing in her delivery … watch for the lines when says “You will put the win in winsome …. lose some”  “Remember good things comes in threes … and so do bad things”


Does anyone have a question ? … uhhh anyone ?

How many presentations end with the immortal words “are there any questions?”

In South Africa this can trigger absolute silence!  It seems as if it’s not in our nature to leap to our feet with an immediate question. It usually takes a moment or two for some brave soul to break the ice and this can feel like a lifetime for the presenter !

Try planting just one or two questions with ‘friendly’ members of your audience. Not only does this help get the ball rolling, but you can steer questions in a direction you would prefer!

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Into the camera … Or off camera?

Before you next find yourself in front of the ‘business end’ of a video camera being interviewed or as a presenter, here is a trick used by seasoned professionals.

If you haven’t had lots of experience presenting ‘to camera’ … you are probably better off presenting ‘off camera’

The difficulty most people experience presenting ‘to camera’ … is getting their ‘eye line’ right. In other words, where do you look in the lens of the camera to make eye contact
with an audience you can’t see?.

Many people adopt a position that appears slightly too high to the viewer. The effect can be to make you appear a little ‘aloof’ …. giving the impression you are talking down to the audience.

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Lost in Translation

Increasingly, many of my clients have business opportunities throughout Africa, Europe and Asia.  This often creates the challenge of delivering speeches and presentations through a translator.

By following a few simple rules, you can significantly reduce the risk of a translator diluting the impact of your presentation.

Unless you are presenting to the United Nations or a similar body, you probably won’t have the luxury of simultaneous translation.  Instead you will have to contend with a ‘stop start’ presentation, pausing whilst your translator relays your presentation in the local language.

Whilst this process is a significant challenge for both presenter and translator, there is one fundamental difference … the translator isn’t paid to have your level of passion or commitment!

It’s unlikely he or she will deliberately dilute or distort your message, but keep in mind they are there to deliver a technically correct translation and they are not under any obligation to “sell” you to the audience.

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