Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Public Speaking - Create an Atmosphere Conducive to Laughter and Interaction

Unless you are using slides or video projection, you want the room lights at maximum intensity for normal business presentations. This could change if you want a comedy club atmosphere where the presenter is extremely well lit and the audience is in relative darkness. Darkened seating allows the audience members to laugh as loud as they want without feeling like everyone is looking at them.

Half of 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 attended a presentation in Washington, D.C., by a "big name" author. I'll call him Mr. Sleeping Bag or SB for short. Before the presentation Mr. SB was in the room with 300 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. He conducted a three-hour slide show with no breaks.

Oh, no!! Better start handing out the kerchiefs and caps because the audience was just settling down for a long winter's nap. 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 one-and-one-half hour mark people were constantly getting up to go to the restroom or getting refreshments.

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