So, you have received an invitation to deliver a talk in a local college. Undoubtedly, you are the best in your field with vast knowledge and experience. A detailed script is prepared with lots of efforts and you are ready for the final event to impress your audience.
You reach college in the best of the outfit and received by top hierarchy giving you VIP treatment. As you rise, a spurt of clapping welcomes you to the podium. Everyone is interested and wants to be benefited from the knowledge you have accumulated over a period of time.
After around 10 minutes of talk, students are yawning and no one appears to be interested. Facial expressions of the audience tell everything. It is a matter of surprise as your presentation is made immaculately with the latest research and data. Your knowledge and hold on the subject is unquestionable, but still audience fails to get interested.
What went wrong?
This is the story that many of us must have experienced in their lives. A few of us learn their lessons well and improve. Mastery of a subject is not a guarantee to deliver effective talks and passing of knowledge. It is a prerequisite, but effective communication demands much more than theoretical knowledge. Following are few points learned over time, which may improve communication skills of any individual.
1. Written Script! No No
Nothing bores an audience more than a written script being rattled out to them. The first impression is that the speaker is not confident, hence resorting to a written script. Moreover, once you read a written script, the emotional touch and eye contact is gone, a prerequisite for effective communication.
2. Reliance on PowerPoint
Too much reliance on the PowerPoint will spoil the show. There are brilliant professionals who work day and night on the design and the color matrix of PowerPoint at the expense of delivery. The result is a poor talk. It needs to be remembered that PowerPoint is just an aid and will not replace an effective delivery of a talk.
Roy was learning riding and was little scared as the horse was acting funny. His trainer told him that horses have a remarkable capability to sense the confidence of the rider and accordingly they alter their behavior. The same is applicable for speaker and audience relationship. An audience will immediately sense any lack of confidence and will lose interest.
Talks cannot be mechanical. Rehearsal and practice is required, but cramming will not help. Emotions will come naturally if the subject is close to your heart.
5. Art of storytelling
Watch an interesting thriller movie or read a similar novel. The way a story unfolds, keep its audience on tenterhooks and interested. An episode of a TV serial will invariably finish at a crucial juncture keeping the audience guessing for the next episode. This is also true for talks and speeches. Make it interesting.
In the end, no amount of reading on communication skills will help. It is through continuous practice and actual talks that one will learn and overcome obstacles to become an effective speaker.