From the Office of Educational Development at UC Berkeley:
Analyze Your Audience
- Remember that the members of the audience are beneficiaries of your communication.
- Don’t make assumptions about your audience.
- Figure out the basics. Who are these people?
- demographics (age, ethnicity, gender mix, etc.).
- predispositions (hopes, fears, positives/negatives, level of interest).
- knowledge of/experience with subject/me.
- In what kind of setting will you be speaking?
- large lecture hall or small seminar room or classroom.
- lighting and sound issues.
- time of day.
- Take into account the “me, here, now.”
- Picture yourself as a member of the audience and ask “How does this message affect me, here, now?”
- “Me, here, now” translates into what you as a sender have to offer your audience/receivers—what they will be able to understand, accept, support, consider important—because it matters to them.
- Establish objectives for your audience:
- What do I want my audience to know?
- What do I want my audience to do
Openings, and Closings
OPENINGS. Stay away from the predictable (Good morning…, Today, I’m here to talk about…). Instead:
- Begin with a provocative question, anecdote, or current event—and how it relates to the content.
- Ask the audience a question
- Set up a problem—and promise that they’ll have all the tools for a solution by the end of the class.
CLOSINGS. Many speakers simply talk until the end of the time or beyond it—and say, “I see we’re out of time.” Instead:
- Plan a rhythm for your speaking—plan to end with content 5 minutes early, so you can summarize, raise questions.
- Set aside a time for questions—and structure that time.
You won’t cover everything you want in a talk or speech.
- Decide what is essential, what is important, and what is helpful.
- Cover the first; try to cover the second; forget about the third.
- Release a little control over the material and rely on a list of supplementary readings for the nonessentials.
- Set objectives.
- What do you want to have accomplished at the end of the speech?
- What do you want the audience to know at the end of the speech?
- Plan a speech to cover less than the allotted period.
- It takes some time to get going.
- Questions always take up more time than you expect.
- Divide the speech into segments and follow the standard speech structure.
- Divide it in terms of time and material.
- Try for roughly equal blocks, each one on a topic.
- Tell them what you’ll say, say it, and tell them what you’ve said.
- Speak from notes or an outline, rather than a complete text.
- It’s too tempting to simply read, rather than lecture, from a complete text.
- Reading also creates a barrier between speaker and audience.
- Writing up an entire speech is time consuming.
- A written speech often becomes a fossil that never gets updated.
- Be conversational; speak naturally; be yourself.
- That self may be formal, “laid back,” understated, or hyper. Use those traits; don’t fight against them.
- Talk about the material; don’t lecture about it.
- (Talking is easier if you don’t read verbatim.)
- Vary your pacing and voice.
- Gauge audience reaction.
- Repeat critical points immediately if you sense the necessity.
- Use your voice to emphasize the important points.
- Pause before new points.
- Use transitional statements to move to the next idea.
- Use gestures to emphasize points.
- Have your gestures mirror your voice.
- Adjust your gestures to the size of the room.
- Look at the audience.
- Try to cover all parts of the room by dividing it into four quadrants.
- If direct eye contact makes you forget your place, try looking just over a listener’s head, or between two audience members.
- Use language to create pictures.
- Use metaphors, analogies, and similes.
- Observe the techniques of others.
- Try out techniques you admire in others.
- Like any skill, delivery must be learned
Credibility & Commitment
Although speaking isn’t theatre, we know that audience find concepts and ideas most accessible and credible from someone they consider entertaining.
- Think about antecedent image—perception is often stronger than reality.
- Credibility is enhanced by:
- Your own sense of comfort and confidence presenting material.
- Your enthusiasm and interest in teaching.
- Your research and own ideas.
- Commitment is enhanced by:
- Relating your own experience, ideas, and feelings.
- Taking the first person approach, not separating yourself from your subject.
- Relating your “passion” for your subject.
- Delivery is tied to both commitment and credibility:
An old UCLA study of effective presentations analyzed 3 elements (verbal, vocal, visual). Here’s what it found was important in establishing credibility/believability:
- Verbal (words you say): 7%.
- Vocal (how you sound when you say them): 38%.
- Visual (how you look when you say them): 55%.
- Your energy and intensity will move your audience—and help you reach your objectives.
- Learning takes place best in an active, not a passive environment.
- Interaction is a continuous way to
- Assess the me, here, now.
- Determine whether or not your content is understood.
- Share the responsibility of learning more equitably and appropriately.
- How to build interaction?
- Have questions prepared—begin with relatively easy, accessible ones.
- Work to get everyone involved, even in large groups.
- Ask the audience to consider issues with the person sitting next to them/jot down ideas, questions, concerns.
- Discuss as a larger group.
- Move yourself!
- Don’t scurry back and forth, but don’t get locked into one position.
- Explicitly request and encourage questions.
- The audience will see that you have a genuine interest in what they’re thinking.
- Be aware of how your behavior and comments can set the tone for questioning.
- A negative response (e.g., “We’ve already covered that”) discourages further questions and may make the audience think you don’t really want questions.
- Make sure everyone hears the question.
- Repeat it if necessary.
- But don’t make a habit of simply repeating every question.
- Ask the audience if they heard the question; then ask the person to repeat.
- Clarify questions.
- Say, “Do you mean that . . . ,” or “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question,” rather than “Your question isn’t clear.”
- Answer questions as directly as possible.
- Address your answer to the whole audience.
- Ask whether you have answered the question.
- Be diplomatic when people raise tangential, overly complicated questions, or persistently ask questions just to be asking.
- Ask them to stop by after the presentation or to contact you.
- If a someone is simply confused, say, “Let me go over this point a bit more slowly.”
- Get regular feedback.
- Ask the audience to spend the last five minutes of class writing down the most important thing they learned that day or one question they have as a result of the talk.
- Or ask them to write down questions they still have.
- Use eye contact as a tool for continuous feedback.
- If you notice people with questioning looks, stop what you’re doing and ask if you need to clarify.
- If you get no response, go ahead and clarify.