Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

You Need 400 Faces When Presenting

Can we be successful as a presenter if we don't connect with our audience?  Many presenters believe this simply is not needed.  This connecting lark is rather fluffy and irrelevant for them because the content is king.  The delivery is a sideshow, a trifle, a distraction from the main game.  Solid high value information, backed up with verifiable data is the mother lode.  Actually that is not true.
Solid, verifiable data delivered in a monotone, presented looking down to the reams of notes on the podium, in a disinterested manner is a communication killer.  No matter how good the "goods" are, it is not much help if no one if getting your message.  Why aren't they getting it?   They are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Line instead.  We cannot be so arrogant as to imagine our content can carry the day in this age of distraction.  The younger generation are going to be the future business audience from Hell. They are growing up totally distracted all the time, with the concentration span of a dazed gnat.  They have an addiction to being in touch with each other all the time and are unapologetically reaching for their escape vehicle - their phone - in a heartbeat.
If you are looking down at your note when speaking then the most valuable data is being withheld from you.  Watch your audience like a hawk.  If you see them disappear under the desk scrolling with their device, then you can kiss your message goodbye.  Look them right in the eye.  And do it for six seconds.  Why six?  Less is not giving us time enough to connect and any longer becomes intrusive - we start giving them sunburn from our intensity.
So the maths on that calculation are pretty simple.  Six seconds means ten people per minute.  A 40 minute speech means we are constantly using our eye contact to connect with 400 faces.  Some will be the same faces, depending on the size of the audience.  In a large audience, we may think we cannot connect with everyone but we can.  Those seated far from us will imagine we are looking at them.  The actual person we are looking at and the twenty people sitting around them, all believe we are talking directly to them.  Our object should be to speak one-on-one to every single person in that audience.
But Greg, in Japan, we don't make eye contact.  Not true.  In a typical business meeting, continuous eye contact will be burn out the retinas of our Japanese counterparts, so we have to learn how to turn the eye contact on and off.  A presentation is not the same thing though.  This is a different role for us and we need to play the bigger game of being persuasive. To do so means we have to bring our full armory to the cause, to battle listener distraction and escape attempts.
Divide the audience up into six sectors, depending on the size. A smaller audience might become just three sectors.  The point is to ensure we visually rove across the audience and speak to every single person, no matter where they are seated.  We are not looking at the projection screen, our laptop monitor, the back wall, the front row or only one side of the room.  We are circulating in a random fashion around the audience, trying to draw them into the web of our message.
We have in our mind those 400 faces we have to connect with, before our time is up.  When we do this, the members of the audience feel more closely connected to us.  They feel as if they are being spoken to directly and they feel flattered with the attention.
We can read their faces for reaction to what we are saying.  This allows us to respond by varying our delivery, by using voice tone, questions and silence to keep them in the room with us.
If we have their attention then we have a chance of getting our message across.  Even if they cannot remember all that we say, they will never forget us.  Getting both would be a wonderful result, getting one is better than being totally forgettable like most speakers.


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