Skip to main content

Public Speaking : Tips for Business Presentations


Public speaking is one of my interests and I like to observe and study the speakers’ style. Based on my experiences, I have noted some pertinent points that constitute a good performance.

  1. Clarity: Some feel that using corporate jargon creates a strong impression. But words like “innovation”, “transformation”, “management” etc have been done to death and no longer register an impact. Use of simple words helps people concentrate directly on your point instead of waving through the jargon to understand your point. Language is a tool to communicate your thoughts – it is not the end-product by itself. In writing, the reader can go through the content over and again till he gets the point. In speech you have no such luxury; you must reach your audience right in the first time. And if a listener fails to grasp you more than twice or thrice, you have positively lost his attention for the rest of speech.

  1. Brevity: Blame it on our school education where we were given to understand that writing more generally begets more marks. But a lengthy note can weigh down even an otherwise good speech. Content obesity should be avoided in this era of shorter attention spans. Convoluted speech is a product of convoluted thinking. Think out loud, straighten your thought & tighten your logic. Speak the crystallized ideas borne out of thoroughly digested concepts. Sometimes, complex speech is indicative of non-digestion of concepts which are reflected as-they-are without processing them.

  1. Intellectuality: Respect your listeners’ intellect. Some people talk with the air of self-importance that’s revolting. You would have researched well and may have points you think are truly original and interesting. Yet, the audience may not share your enthusiasm. Do not focus much on what is too well known and is fairly commonsensical. There must be atleast one takeaway point from your speech that lingers in listeners’ mind long after you’ve finished. Nothing is new under sun.  They just appear in different trappings.

  1. Unity: Please do not make your speech like a mass-entertaining movie that contains every conceivable element. Instead dovetail your entire speech on one idea that manifests itself in various ways. Link your sub-ideas to that one idea. This subtle repetition greatly enhances the impact of your content and creates a powerful impression in audience minds. But there exist situations where this is not possible. (eg. A presentation on improving business efficiency may contain multiple ideas not necessarily linked to one-another). However it pays to keep the root ideas as few as possible and make other concepts evolve from those basic ones.

  1. Humanity: Business is done ultimately by humans, not machines. Sharing related personal experiences (either spice up some incident to desired effect, or simply imagine a believable one) enlivens the atmosphere. A good sense of humor is most essential to hold the attention and drive home your point. It freshens the mind in a boring environment. The human touch can provide access to listeners’ heart and business decisions are based as much on intangible emotions as they are on rational scrutiny. Without striking a chord with the human side of your audience, you’re likely to inform, not reach them.

PS: I was inspired to write this after a seminar I attended last evening. I’ll return to this subject later with more observations and perhaps a more comprehensive treatment on this subject.

Comments

  1. I feel asking rhetoric questions to the audience is also a good practice in public speaking. Sometimes it happens that the presenter asks a rhetoric question, captivates the audience mind and answer it instantly. This way he can gain attention.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Krishna Chaitanya : Thanks for commenting. You're right - rhetorical questions help. But it must be a subtle and not on-your-face stuff. For eg, in Personality Development class asking "Who among you want to improve your soft skills" is an absolute give away. It bores people.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The concept of Dharma in Ramayana

The concept of Dharma is not adequately understood by Hindus themselves, not to mention others. Dharma is not a set of do’s and don’t’s or a simplistic evaluation of good and bad. It requires considerable intellectual exertion to even begin understanding Dharma, let alone mastering its use.

Is Dharma Translatable?
Few words of a language cannot be faithfully translated into another without injuring its meaning, context & spirit. English translations of Dharma are blurred and yield words like religion, sense of righteousness, discrimination between good and bad, morals and ethics or that which is lawful. All these fall short of fully grasping the essence of Dharma.
Every language has an ecosystem of words, categories and grammar which allow a user to stitch words together to maximum effect such that meaning permeates the text without necessarily being explicitly explained at each point. Sanskrit words such dharma, karma, sloka, mantra, guru etc., now incorporated in English, lose thei…

How Linguistic States strengthened Indian Unity

Be like a garland maker, O king; not like a charcoal burner.” --Mahabharata
[It asks the king to preserve and protect diversity, in a coherent way. The metaphor used is that of a garland, in which flowers of many colors and forms are strung together for a pleasing effect. The contrast is given against charcoal, which is the result of burning all kinds of wood and reducing diversity to homogeneous dead matter. The charcoal burner is reductionist and destroys diversity, whereas the garland maker celebrates diversity.]
Unification of Germany and Italy populated by similar people was achieved by huge armies spanning across decades. In sharp contrast, India under Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel managed to unite a much larger area divided by culture & languages within few years.
The European experience where new nations were carved over little differences in identity, made the Indian experiment appear poised for a breakup sooner than later. Yet, India managed to stay united though the journey wa…

Chetan Bhagat : His Literary Style and Criticism

Chetan Bhagat’s (CB) recent column created a furore, chiefly because of his audacity to speak for Muslim community and what many people conflate with his support for Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministerial ambitions.  
But what interested me most - and what this post would focus on - is questioning of his literary merit (or lack of it). Many journalists ridicule CB’s style of writing and his oversimplistic portrayals of characters sans nuance or sophistication. But I suspect this has more to do with the fact that his readers alone far outnumber the combined readers of many journalists - a point that many don’t appear capable of digesting.
No takers for layman’s language!
When Tulsidas rewrote Ramayana in Avadhi (a local contemporary dialect then), many conservative sections of society came down heavily upon him for defiling the sanctity of a much revered epic (originally written in Sanskrit). When Quran was first translated in Urdu (by Shah Abdul Qadir in 1798), it faced intense opposition by …