Friday, June 13, 2008

Public Speaking : BACKWARDS

I was just at a meeting where a brilliant speaker made the classic mistake of making a point backwards from the audience's point of view.

He used a pole as a prop and held it horizontal to the ground to simulate a time line of human life. He touched the pole on the end to represent childhood then ran his finger along the middle of the pole to represent adulthood and touched the other end of the pole to show where old age would be.

The problem was, he started at the wrong end of the pole. From his perspective everything was perfect. He started childhood to"his" left and finished with old age to "his" right. From the perspective of an English speaking audience (the members of which read left to right) this was backwards. If you were sitting in his audience, you saw old age where childhood would have been and vice versa.

This mistake falls in the category of what I call a brainstopper (Vol 2 Num 8 )When you do something or say something that causes and audience member's thought pattern to stop, he/she doesn't hear what you say next. In this case the backwards display of time would have audience members thinking about the wrong order instead of the point the speaker was trying to make. I could even see some people in the crowd whispering to each other about it when he did it.

Think from the audience's point of view when you make a similar display that has a logical sequence. You will have to reverse the display from your point of view for it to make sense to the audience.

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