21 October 2006

The Physical bit

Someone has just emailed me to point out that I didn't mention body language in the last post on presentation. That's true, but I don't think that you will learn much from a written description by me. If you want to learn how you look when you present, get someone to video all or part of one of your presentations and it doesn't matter at all whether it's a practice or the real thing, the learning points will be very similar.

My natural presentational style is physical - I like to move around, so I like a physical space where I can use my arms for emphasis. That's fine when I'm in a situation where the constraints of room and sound system allow that, but for a large audience and a lecturn then I clearly have to tone down the urge to move my body and more importantly, my head, so that I stay within a fairly well-defined range of the microphone to avoid significant sound glitches. There is nothing more irritating to the audience than the speaker moving their head away from the microphone so that the delivery becomes indistinct or inaudible.

For me voice is more important than body language - flat, monotonic and consistently paced delivery sounds over prepared. That's why I favour less reliance on the formal speech or script - the fewer back-ups the more normal the delivery and the greater chance of changes in pace, intonation and stress. That's what I look for in someone else's presentation and that's what I hope to achieve when I deliver material myself.

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