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4You first, then the screen

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The Engaging Presenter Part II:

How to connect with any audience



3.5



How do I speak when I’m using visual aids



The core visual-aids principle



If you went down the street speaking to cars, mailboxes and fence posts, you would soon be talking to

a policeman, or to sincere individuals in white coats. So, when we’re in front of an audience and need

good human contact, why do we talk to whiteboards, flip charts, and our own presentation notes? Many

talk to their presentation notes even when they’re not picking up useful information from it!

Here’s my favourite definition of the core principle:



360°

thinking



.



Fig 4



360°

thinking



.



360°

thinking



.



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42 at www.deloitte.ca/careers

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Dis



The Engaging Presenter Part II:

How to connect with any audience



How do I speak when I’m using visual aids



1. Talk only while your eyes are engaged to the eyes of the audience. Start turning your body

to the whiteboard while your head and eyes stay on the audience for the last words. Don’t

send the words to the wall or window on the turn.

2. Stay silent while you touch, point or write. It’s okay to do this even in the middle of a

sentence, as long as the silence is relatively brief.

3. Turn your head and eyes quickly back to the audience. Start talking only when your eyes

have re-engaged with audience eyes. Let your body catch up to your head in its own time –

the fluidity stops you looking like a robot.

Your job is not to get out the facts, but to engage the facts to your audience. A vital part of that is your

relaxed silence when your eyes are not on them.

Okay. That’s the non-electronic aids. Now, why are large screen electronic visual aids different?



3.6



How to stand and move when you use a large screen



(The PowerPoint polka)

Don’t treat this lightly. What you’ll read in this section will save your audiences from glazed eyes,

expressions like hypnotised chickens, and death (by PowerPoint) of attention. They’ll come to you

afterwards and say, Hey, your PowerPoint didn’t annoy us. What are you doing, exactly?

First, the difference from normal visual aids is in the size of the screen. You have to move well away from

it so everyone can see. But if you’re still pointing your body at the audience, you’re sending the message

look at me. So where are they to look? At you, or the screen? That’s visual ambiguity and the eyes start

glazing immediately. The solution is a sequence of moves that removes all ambiguity.

One you get used to the moves, they takes place usually in less than 10 seconds. But it takes practice.

1. Pre-announce the slide. “So, let’s look at…” (Yes, that’s before anything appears on the screen.

Get your prompts from your own presentation notes. Our surveys show that audiences

are annoyed by presenters who let PowerPoint prompt them on what to say next.) There’s

nothing on the screen yet, so you’re still directly in front of the audience, facing them.

2. Move briskly to the keyboard. Punch in the correct slide number (then press ENTER) and

move your head swiftly to look at the screen with the audience. This is all one flowing

movement. The brisk body movement maintains interest. The swift head movement tells

them to shift their eyes from you to the screen.



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The Engaging Presenter Part II:

How to connect with any audience



How do I speak when I’m using visual aids



3. Look at the screen with the audience in silence as you move into your slide-show position.

The silence is essential. You know the slide, but the audience doesn’t and they don’t want to

hear from you until they’ve absorbed its essence (but not its detail). How long? It depends

on the slide. Typically, it’s two or three seconds, but judge it by putting yourself in their

shoes.



Fig 5



4. Adopt the slide-show foot position – feet pointing half way between the screen and the centre of

the audience. The foot position is critical. Even if you’re behind a lectern, the twist in your

upper body as you speak tells the audience to keep looking at the screen rather than you.

5. Turn to audience to begin talking – with feet still in the slide-show position. Keep talking to

the audience with regular glances at the screen to keep re-enforcing that the screen is the

visual target.

And yes, for projector screens – when you’re in this position – it’s okay to keep talking while

glancing at the screen.

And when you’ve finished talking about the slide?

6. Blank the screen (the black slide) and return to the front of the audience.

It is simple, but it does take practice to get familiar with the moves. Get a few colleagues together and

experiment with it.

A couple of extra points.



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The Engaging Presenter Part II:

How to connect with any audience



How do I speak when I’m using visual aids



• Here’s a good invariable rule.

Something on the screen? Stand to one side

and point your feet half way between the screen

and the centre of the audience. Nothing on the screen?

Return to the front and face the audience.



If you continue to stand to one side when the screen is blank, your body is telling

the audience that PowerPoint is in charge, not you. You lose credibility.

• In step 3, while you’re looking in silence with the audience at the new material, dart a swift

glance over your shoulder at the audience closest to you. That glance – perhaps no more

than half a second – says, I’m checking that you can all see okay and that you’re taking this

in.

• Be silent with each animation. Eighty per cent of us are more influenced by the visual sense

than any other; so much so that our other senses shut down briefly when visual changes

happen. Even a subtle change to a single screened word – say a brightening of colour –

needs a slight pause.

• If, in your enthusiasm, you stride up close to the screen to point at something (a good

thing to do for variety), you can no longer talk to the screen. It’s back to visual-aid basics

(Figure 4). Point silently, turn silently, talk. It looks good, it looks emphatic.



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The Engaging Presenter Part II:

How to connect with any audience



3.7



How do I speak when I’m using visual aids



Don’t engage with your own computer screen



Don’t talk to your computer screen while the audience looks at the wall screen. Yes, the audience knows

logically that you must be looking at the same thing, but the body language message is You are in one

place, I am in another – a disturbing effect that defies logic. The audience has to work harder to take in

your message. Some, inevitably, will switch off.



3.8



Do jump directly to any slide, forward or back.



We’ve all seen the horrible opposite. Slide 43 is on the screen and someone asks to see that 2nd slide again.

So the presenter grinds us back through every slide, including all the animations. It’s a visual assault.

Here’s the solution: You want to go back to slide 2? Press 2 then enter. Want to return to slide 43? Press

43 and enter. It doesn’t get simpler than that.



3.9



Avoid ‘this is a cow’



Television news chief reporters often use the phrase to criticise a rookie reporter’s item. It says that the

reporter is telling people what they can see perfectly well for themselves, implying that they are stupid.

Instead:

Add value with your commentary.



Commentary

“If Daisy didn’t have more than one

stomach, she wouldn’t be able to

digest grass. The chamber on the

top left is…”



YES. This works well. The

commentary adds value to the

picture, saying nothing we can’t see

for ourselves.



“Here’s a cow and this is a diagram

showing the ruminant digestive

system with four chambers.”



NO. This doesn’t work at all. We can

see for ourselves almost everything

being said. It’s insulting.



Fig 6



Have you heard about the football team that did so badly they got rid of their coach and hired a new

one? On his first day, the new coach stood in front of them and held up a ball.

“Now then lads. This here… is a football.”

“Eeh, Kieran,” said a voice from the back. “Yer goin’ a bit fast for us.”



46

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The Engaging Presenter Part II:

How to connect with any audience



3.10



How do I speak when I’m using visual aids



Electronic smartboards



If you’re up close (writing or pointing), then you treat it just like an ordinary white board (see The

core visual aids principle, page 42). If you’re further back, looking at it with the audience and adding

commentary, treat it like a large screen PowerPoint show (see The PowerPoint Polka, page 43).



3.11



Other sophisticated presentation software



Beware. Some clever presentation software is out there. Some of it zips and zaps and zooms and swoops

from beginning to end. And much of it is completely useless. If it dominates and puts you to one side

all the time, replace it with something more audience-friendly.

I’ll leave the last word to one of the world’s more successful salespeople, who knew very well the danger

of letting clever visual aids take over. The important phrase in this quote is ‘…but not make…’

I urge you to incorporate all the visual aids you can to support, but not make, your

main arguments. Tom Hopkins



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