Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What do you fear more: death or public speaking?

A few years ago a survey revealed that if offered the choice between death or speaking in front of an audience, more people preferred the former to the latter!

Well known direct marketing guru, Drayton Bird knows all about this – he has spoken in 50 countries and has generated £250,000 in revenue in doing so.

He says …”When I started I was more frightened than you could ever be. It took tranquillisers and drink to summon up the guts to face an audience.”

Yet it's hard to really get ahead without being able to speak or make presentations. And most of us will use PowerPoint.

Somebody has now done research that shows PowerPoint presentations do more harm than good - and can put people to sleep.

This was written by someone else who sounds quite pleased with himself:

"We've all heard the phrase 'death by PowerPoint' - that numbing feeling the brain suffers as confusing slide after confusing slide follow one another. I have to do a lot of public speaking, and am one of those lucky people who think on their feet, without being afflicted by blind panic. But I couldn't help feeling that the good feedback I got from audiences wasn't just because I was a brilliant speaker. I'm not.

"The common factor between my own presentations and others which were far better informed, researched and presented, was that they used PowerPoint and I didn't. Eventually, it dawned on me that PowerPoint really does ruin a good speech."

I doubt whether any of us will give up using PowerPoint, but understanding the reasons why PowerPoint presentations fail might help us make our next presentation a bit better:

1.    The audience is torn between looking at you and looking at the slide.
2.    If you have lots of words on the slide, they'll look more at them than at you.
3.    Words are not as interesting or as memorable as pictures.
4.    Most speakers start by talking about themselves or their firms - deeply boring to the audience (just as it is in copy or websites).
5.    By the time they do start talking about benefits, the audience has given up.
6.    Most presentations lack a logical structure - and are too long.
7.    People worry more about style - delivery - than on content: what the audience will be able to do better as a result.

So what can we learn from this?

•    Plan presentations with the end objective in mind – in other words, worry more about the results of the presentation than the presentation itself
•    Words and pictures working together are more memorable than words alone and
•    Use PowerPoint as a great "crib-sheet" for you by using the notes function.

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