35% talk – 65% listening

have a conversation

This is the third of five thoughts dealing with professional presentations and public speaking. An Australian survey found that 70% of executives believe that good presentation skills are critical to professional advancement. Despite the widely acknowledged importance of presentation skills, this slightly arrogant but award- winning speaker finds that most executives present badly.

In an earlier thought, I discussed strategies for reducing the fear associated with public speaking or making a presentation. One such strategy involves not making a speech but, instead, having a conversation. Indeed, it is often said that a great presentation is 35% speaking and 65% listening.

Listening involves listening with the ears and with the eyes. It is useful to seek input, and when you do, it is important to take it into account. It is also important to observe body language. The goal is to communicate and, by definition, this is a two-way process.

Here are some tips for making your presentation a constructive and winning conversation:

  • Open your speech with a big question and seek answers. This is a good way of breaking the ice (often better than a joke). It engages the audience and provides you with direction.
  • Ask questions throughout the address. Ideally, these will be questions to which you know the answer and that tie responses into your talk.
  • Encourage questions from the floor and when you see an audience member looking quizzical, confused, or in disagreement, ask that person for their thoughts.
  • Make a big statement that will confront some audience members and encourage comment. If comments are not offered, ask for them

Experts maintain that good sales presentations are – 65% listening and 35% speaking. I would argue that all presentations improve when there is conversation and a demonstration of your capacity to listen. I would also argue that starting a conversation can radically reduce nerves.

These tips might help make your presentation more potent. Email me for more.

In 2018, have a conversation

Every year – put the facts ahead of intuition and guesswork.

Sources of core statistics – Corporate Communication Experts, The Career Café, Forbes, Making Business Matter and Alvernia University

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