Posted by: kenwbudd | July 6, 2009

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Public Speaking and Presentations

‘You’ve got to have appeal as well as power in your voice. You must convince your audience that you have something to offer them’

This was the adage that Franklin D. Roosvelt lived by when presenting in public, on the radio and latterly on TV. Very few people realise that he gained this incredible insight from the Winner of the Hog-Calling Contest, held in his hometown in Texas.

Errant Children misbehave
I always tell my students that when presenting, they must consider there audience as a group of errant children who will run around and misbehave as soon as your back is turned. Therefore, they must face their audience at all times and not turn away, for any reason. Certainly not to read their own presentation, because as soon as they do they will direct the audiences attention away from you, the presenter and onto the screen. You want to hold them enthralled by your presence, your sincerity, your enthusiasm and your gaze, like a professional actor.

Make eye contact
Another important thing to remember, is to make eye contact with each and every one of them. Direct your presentation to all areas of the room and include all your audience. Believe that, as soon as you miss someone’s eye contact, they will fall fast asleep, check their emails or just run off.

Use an even hypnotic pace when making eye contact. Move or flow gently around the audience. Do not attempt to flash a quick glance at everyone, like a startled animal, this will simply confuse your audience or worst, trigger a chase or flee response from the crowd.

Orchestrate your public performances and presentations, as if you were conducting a concert.

The structure of your presentation and the concert, depends very much on what the subject matter is and your audience. Once you have decided what you want to achieve then you can select the style. Here are a few I made earlier;

The Wave: Have an introduction, build up to a climax, plateau and then subside. It ends with the wave crashing spectacularly onto the shore, in a cascade of sound and images.

The Surfboard: Sometimes you will want to end the presentation on a high level of energy so that the audience will run out the door ready for action, riding the wave of energy you have developed. Very popular with charismatic figure-heads, dictators and revolutionaries.

The Mole: This is appropriate for mid-Project Rescue & Recovery, Trouble-shooting and Brain-storming sessions. In this situation you begin at ground level and start to dig your way through the problems and issues, listing and defining them as you go.

Once you have collected and considered these, you should be at the lowest point for the audience. Keep the doors locked and don’t allow anyone to leave at this point, for their own good.

Now start to look at options and examine potential solutions, matching them to the issues. In this way you start to dig your way back to the surface and your audience will, hopefully, see some light at the end of the tunnel. Try and gather pace as you near the ‘surface’.

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