The other day, I saw this great article on LinkedIn from Inc. entitled, “Great Presenters Do 1 Thing That Most of You Don’t, Science Says.” The first thing that I loved about this article is that they didn’t just talk to a “talking head” expert or keynote speaker that is friends with the author, they spoke to a psychology professor at UCLA about his research study. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m big on proving tactics and strategies with facts (science), many of which come from psychology research. Dr. Mehrabian found great presentations came down to Visual, Vocal, and Verbal elements (not surprising), but what he stated that great presenters do differently than most presenters is astonishing. [It also reminds me of what my favorite football player does, which is timely since the regular season starts this weekend.]
First of all, Dr. Mehrabian found that the Verbal elements (content) of a presentation made up only 7% of what influenced the presenter’s audience. This low percentage may sound odd, what you say during a presentation has less than a 10% effect on audiences. His study found that Visual elements influenced the audience 55% and 38% of the influence came from Vocal elements (rate, volume, and inflection).
It gets even better than that. The author of the article also spoke to communications expert Daniel Pitlik, who noted:
Practice the presentation as you would give it. Don’t quietly whisper your words while sitting at your desk. By doing this, you are only focusing on the Verbal part. Stand up, project your voice, use emphatic gestures, pause for effect, and move around. When you feel like you’re a bit over-animated, and easily know your content, then you are ready. Playing it safe won’t get you anywhere.
This quote about perfect practice reminded me of Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback. During a bye week, he will still walk through the entire game as if it were a real game and he is known for treating practice just like game time. His commitment to proper practice is one reason why Drew Brees is consistently one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
Furthermore, I’m a HUGE proponent of proper practice include dress rehearsals where you were the (or similar) outfit to the actual presentation to ensure you can make natural hand gestures (and run a lavaliere microphone down your dress), working with the presentation remote control and projector, and going through your presentation in its entirety (ideally in front of a small audience). A dress rehearsal is especially vital for group presentations so you can work through the transitions and where to stand, that way your transitions are not clumsy in front of your audience.
Perfecting your presentation skills takes move repetition and proper practice.
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How Speak Simple Can Help You
Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being an excellent presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.