Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Public Speaking - Create an Atmosphere Conducive to Laughter

Unless you are using slides or video projection you want the room lights at maximum intensity. Half your effectiveness with humor is realized because the audience can see you. The audience wants to see your face. They want to see your expressions. They want to see your body language. It is easier to establish a bond when the speaker and the audience can see each other which is one good reason to avoid reading your presentation from behind a lectern.

I recently attended a presentation in Washington D.C. by a "big name" author. He conducted a three hour slide show with no breaks. He was totally "in the dark" behind a lectern. I am an audience watcher so I know he never connected with the audience.

Besides being in the dark the man made several other inexcusable mistakes that indicated little regard for his audience. Three hours is too long to go without a break. Starting at the 1 1/2 hour mark people were constantly getting up to go to the restroom or getting refreshments. Before the presentation the man was in the room with three hundred people with a bored nasty look on his face. I tried to make eye contact with him when he walked by me and he stared right through me.

What could this presenter have done to dramatically increase the effectiveness of his presentation? Since I'm supposed to be talking about lighting right now, I will. All he had to do was put a soft light on himself that lit him or at least lit his face. A low intensity light placed properly would not have affected the visibility of the projection screen at all, but would have helped him connect with the audience. They would have been able to see his face. As it was, all they heard was a voice coming from the darkness.

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