Only connect

Nov 14 2012 by Janet Howd Print This Article

The best presenters are able to engender a sense of connectedness with every audience they address. How do they do that?

First and foremost they make it their business to 'own' the knowledge that they have to convey, so they can dismiss worries about not being able to remember stuff.


That word turned into a verb is how to recall facts that you won't retain. People 'stuff' for exams. They pack in as many relevant facts as possible as close as possible to the time they need to regurgitate it and then do just that - spitting out all their material in one fell swoop. After which gut wrenching effort, they forget most of what they learned

Many presenters do that, too. By force of personality and sheer cheek, they often get away with divesting themselves of such information without too much negative audience reaction. BUT, come to question time, they find themselves floundering like fish out of water: literally gasping for breath as they struggle to unpack material they thought they had wrapped up solely to be delivered sight unseen. The embarrassment and angst those presenters put themselves through sometimes marks them for life.

Any presenters who do not want to go through such an ordeal must allow time for the stuff they ingest to be thoroughly digested well before they stand in front of an audience. Then, if they have to speak off the cuff or are asked awkward questions they will not feel at all queasy but with interesting nuggets and small tidbits of information will titillate the appetite of less informed colleagues and disarm those trying to point-score.

Time, then, is of the essence. But the time referred to is that spent before the speaker is delivering and unpacking information in front of others.

Presentations with back up also go without a hitch or can easily be salvaged if one does occur, because the best presenters will also have also taken time in advance to find out about the audience who will be listening to them. They do this so that they know in advance how best to share material with that specific group, and look forward to (in both senses of that phrase) questions they are most likely to be asked.

Certain colleagues, after a lecture, can do a lot of point scoring and showing off unless a discussant is really on the ball. However, an experienced presenter knows that trading ideas in this way can be a thought provoking exercise for members of the audience who do not have deep knowledge of the subject. Trading ideas with an equally informed colleague, however tempestuous usually produces rich pictures and, sometimes, even rich friendships!

So, take your time as you put your material together and be genuinely happy to grapple with any query.

Once in front of an audience, set all personal hang-ups aside. Concentrate solely on the members of that audience. Draw them towards you by making it easy for them to hear. Allow them easy access to the information you want to share and incline them to listen and take-in what you say with the ease of your delivery

Do all these things and you can rest assured that listeners will feel privileged to have been informed in such a generous way and will retain benefit from such a thought provoking interchange long after they have left your presence.

more articles

About The Author

Janet Howd
Janet Howd

Janet Howd is a voice coach who works with corporate, academic, legal, theatrical and private clients in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe.