Know Thou Audience– it’s a very important concept! Throughout my time employed at the zoo, we spend the majority of the year speaking to preschoolers about animals. Since it would be obviously inappropriate to talk to three and four-year-old children about nocturnal animals and nictitating membranes, I had to be very diligent about how to prepare the information so it was age appropriate. Often I had to break down the most simplified information for this age group which is quite challenging. Many times, it wasn’t until I got to the facility did I realize that I wasn’t talking to preschoolers, but to fourth graders and had to quickly change my plan. Other times I had to somehow talk to both preschoolers and high school students simultaneously, which was also challenging, but possible. If you will be talking to multiple audiences at the same time, you may alternate and talk to
It is a Speak Simple founding principal developed through trial and error, “Talk to your Grandpa”. Speaking to the elderly is sometimes more difficult than anything else. For those senior citizens like my own grandfather who has not adapted to digital cameras, it is extremely difficult to explain how all those pictures got on this thumbnail size piece of plastic, or how I can find the number for the pizza restaurant using my phone. Sometimes the audience is just like my grandpa, they need a bit more tender loving care when it comes to explaining things and then elaborating on them. Even more difficult when grandpa forgot about it when you told him yesterday. It’s an ideal situation to speak not only slowly but in simplified terms just like you would if you were talking to your own grandparents. If you are speaking to any group outside of your colleagues,
My animal background is clear, I have been around them for more than five years and I am very passionate about animals and teaching others about animals. Through trial and error I figured out some ways of rephrasing biological terms for preschoolers to understand. This one is silly and my favorite! When speaking about animals such as frogs it can be difficult to explain how and why amphibians have slimy skin called mucus. I began calling the mucus on an amphibians skin boogers several years ago and I always laugh at the reaction from the teachers when I say it. I started off by introducing the frog and telling the preschoolers that frogs are very special animals because they breathe with their skin; do people breathe with out skin? The answer is always no; people have a nose for breathing. What is in your nose? There is always at least
When preparing your presentation, it is wise to bring down the level of information. Unless you are directly talking to other members of your staff, you are going to have to start from the most basic concepts and then go from there without dwelling. After doing so many presentations about animals, I always began with whether the animal was reptile, mammal, bird, or amphibian regardless of the age group. I would then described what characteristics put that animal in that category and then take the animal out and elaborate. Yes, I worked with animals for five years and yes they were alive. I coordinated an outreach program that took small animals capable of being held and explain animal adaptations and then let the audience interact with the animal by looking up close and touching them. A wise coworker told me to avoid the stumble organize the animal facts from mouth
During my time at the zoo, I gave more than 1,500 presentations. I have always been told that I talk fast, but since I was the person doing all of the talking, I could not understand why. After a library presentation one day, a wise librarian told me to imagine the audience is full of old people. It’s very difficult to slow down, but since I had done multiple presentations at senior facilities, I could feel that I naturally slowed down when talking to an older audience. I realized that she was right. I needed to talk to every audience the same way I would talk to my own grandfather. In paying closer attention to my speech pattern when I was around my grandpa, once again I naturally slowed down my speed of talking and I developed the method “talk to your grandpa”.
Acronyms can be the death of your presentation! Continuing from our previous blog post about simplifying your speech, acronyms are most often what destroys a presentation and some professions are buried in them (like technology, construction, or anything to do with the government). Speaking with acronyms is just like speaking a foreign language, your clients or your audience will not understand or follow you and therefore their attention will be focused somewhere else. Instead of keeping the audience in the dark, make sure to let them in on what the acronym means and continue to use the full meaning throughout your presentation. Knowing what the acronym means is only half of the battle, the audience doesn’t necessarily care about what the acronym means, instead they want to know how it will benefit them, how the end product will be effected.
Over the weekend, I was at a classic car show where I was listening to a friend of my parents talk about the time her mother was in the hospital. The doctor took time and explained the procedure in plain English, without any jargon or acronyms. Understanding the situation fully, in partnership with the doctor, they made a plan to proceed. The family appreciated this very much and because of the doctors effort, they knew that they were in good hands and therefore, they trusted that doctor. Years later, when her sister needed a similar procedure, they were at ease because they had the same doctor that talked them through the process and had better bedside manner. It is a proven fact that surgeons with great bedside manner are sued much less than the highest skilled surgeons that don’t have bedside manner at all– people like them more and empathize
Great speeches boil down to being prepared. The song “Be Prepared” from the Lion King usually comes to mind when I say that. It is true, being prepared is the most important part about pulling off a great speech. During the course of preparation, starting with a strong strategy is crucial. Consider all of the conditions and possibilities, now what possibilities do you want to utilize? Go through all of the steps for writing and re-writing your speech. Make sure that you feel comfortable and look the part. Being prepared is one of the major players in helping to calm the nerves. If you prepare well in advance and practice multiple times, you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to say next and your presentation will flow without trying too hard. Wing it and your presentation will likely be choppy as you are attempting to recall information and
Presentations are often times the glue that holds companies together and makes them profitable. Talking is a part of our everyday jobs and, like it or not, we are required to give formal speeches for different occasions. Everybody is a speaker. Whether you speak to groups of people or individuals, talking is a necessary part of any job. The average American spends at least 30% of waking hours talking. Presentations are often times the chance to show off a product, your company, and let your audience get to know you. People hire who they like and they like who they can relate to best. The additional benefit of being in front of people physically is that passion and gestures can be witnessed by the audience and that connects them. When it comes to prospects, most want to see the technical staff, those who actually work on their projects, do the
I spent four years working for a local zoo and giving presentations about animals, and adaptations to all age groups, sometimes multiple ages at a time. If I were to tell you that alligators are covered in osteoderms, have double camouflage, webbed feet, and nictitating membranes on their eyes, palatal valve’s in the throat, Would you know what I was talking about? Let me break it down a bit. Alligators are relatives of the extinct dinosaurs and date back about 350 million They are of course reptiles that have scales, are cold-blooded or now called ectothermic (ecto for outside since that is where they get their warmth from outside the body), and lay eggs. But alligators are far more awesome, they have double camouflage, they have 2 different ways to disguise themselves. The first is their dark blackish green color on their backs to blend in with the muddy water,