In this article we will be discussing some of the important Platform Skills a trainer should acquire to become an expert. Very often we are involved in giving many Presentations in business communicating to different kinds of audience. How often do we have the control over the audience? In this article we will be discussing Build your Platform Skills for Business Presentations. Here I will be sharing my experience which I have learnt over many years.
Building your Platform Skills for Business Presentations
In this article we will be discussing about building your platform skills under the following categories.
- How to use your voice to communicate and control your audience.
- Ensuring your manners.
- Apply Lighthouse Technique.
- Being nerves: “The Murphy Monkey.”
- Preferred dress code.
- Ten basic tips.
- The listeners understanding skills.
- Active listening skills of trainer.
- Types of body language.
- Posture, gesture and hands.
- Posture, gesture sitting.
- Posture gesture and standing.
In the following section we will discuss each one of them in detail.
Your voice is your strength, it shows the amount of control and authority you have on the subject you are speaking. I have listed a few points below which you could use to improve your platform skills.
Speak louder than usual. Throw your voice to back of the room
Do not swallow words. Beware of verbal “tics”. Ensure you have clear flow and continuity in your statement.
Vary the tone and pitch of your voice. Be dramatic, confidential and/or triumphant.
Watch tonic accents. Check difficult words. Beware of malapropisms.
Over emphasize. Accentuate syllables.
Repeat key phrases with different vocal emphasis
Use delivery speed to manipulate the audience. Fast delivery is to excite and stimulate. Slow delivery to emphasize, awe, dramatize and Control.
- Don’t be tempted by manual props (pens, pointers, spectacles etc).
- Do not keep loose change in your pockets.
- Be aware of your verbal tics and work on eliminating them (i.e. OK! — You know — and so forth — Now …).
- Don’t smoke (unless seated in discussion mode).
- Watch out for furniture.
- Avoid closed or tense body positions.
- Don’t worry about pacing, leaning etc.
- Check your hair/tie/trousers/dress before standing up.
Sweep the audience with your eyes, staying only 2-3 seconds on each person – unless in dialogue. This will give each participant the impression that you are speaking to him/her personally and ensure attention, in the same way as the lighthouse keeps you awake by its regular sweeping flash of light. Above all, avoid looking at one (friendly-looking) member of the audience or at a fixed (non-threatening) point on the wall or floor. The Lighthouse Technique is a very simple but important part of your platform skills.
As you get up to speak, you get a feeling as if a monkey has suddenly jumped onto your shoulders. He claws your neck and weighs you down, making your knees feel weak and shaky. As you start to speak, he pulls at your vocal chords and dries up your saliva. He pushes your eyes to the floor, makes your arms feel 10 meters long and attaches a piece of elastic to your belt, pulling you back to the table or wall behind you.
Experienced speakers know about the Murphy Monkey. Within the first 30 seconds they throw him to the audience. When you throw the monkey to one of the participants, suddenly the spotlight is on them and not on you. How…?
- Ask a question,
- A show of hands,
- A short Ice Breaker (participant introductions, an exercise or quiz etc.)
- A discussion,
- Ask any one to volunteer or
- Simply a reference to one or more of the participants.
All these are ways helps the trainer to put the money on the student back for a few moments. This takes the pressure off you and gives you time to relax. Smile and get ready to communicate your message loud and clear. Overcoming the Murphy Monkey plays a very vital role in improving your platform skills.
- Avoid black and white and other strongly contrasting colors.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes.
- If you can’t make up your mind, wear something boring – at least your clothes won’t detract from the message.
- Try and dress one step above the audience.
- Check zips and buttons before standing up.
For Men: When in doubt, a blue blazer, grey slacks and black shoes with a white shirt and striped tie is usually acceptable from the board room to the art studio.
- Do not keep your eyes on your notes
- Never read anything except quotations from the slide.
- If you’re not nervous there’s something wrong
- Exaggerate body movements and verbal emphasis
- Perform do not act – Perform
- Pause often – silence is much longer for you than for the audience.
- Use humor. A laugh is worth a thousand frowns.
- Be enthusiastic. If you’re not, why should they be?
- Don’t try and win the Nobel prize for technical accuracy
- Keep it simple.
Research has shown that when someone gives a spoken message the listeners understanding and judgment of that message comes from:
a. 7% WORDS
Words are only labels and listeners put their own interpretation on speakers’ words.
b. 38% PARALINGUISTICS
The way in which something is said.
- Rate of Speech
- Pitch at which communicated etc.
Above points are very important for listener’s understanding.
c. 55% FACIAL EXPRESSIONS
What a speaker looks like while delivering a message affects the listener’s understanding most.
Whenever a participant interrupts or responds emotionally during a lesson s/he is probably overstating his or her feelings in order to justify the outburst. In every such case use Active Listening Skills. Never attempt to counter, argue, defend or take sides.
- Take the outburst as a positive contribution (smile, encourage, nod, use lubricators).
- Successively reflect back to the participant (in the form of questions).
- What feelings you heard being expressed. You’re upset with …?
- You’re unhappy about…?
- You feel that we should…?
- Active Listening has 3 advantages:
- You show the participant you’re interested and not defensive.
- You allow the participant to confirm that what you heard was what s/he meant OR to correct your interpretation.
- You quickly lead the participant to specify the EXACT problem and to suggest a solution.
IX. Types of Body Language
1. POSTURES & GESTURES
How do you use hand gestures? Sitting position? Stance?
2. EYE CONTACT
How is your Lighthouse?
How do you position yourself in class?
How close do you sit/stand to participants?
Are looks/appearance/dress important?
6. EXPRESSION OF EMOTION
Are you using facial expressions to express emotion?
X. Posture and Gesture Example – Hands
Steeple means a tall tower that forms the superstructure of a building (usually a church or temple) and that tapers to a point at the top.It is a sign of Self Confidence (Intellectual Arrogance?)
- Hand Clasp
It is a sign of Anxious, Controlled
- Nose Touch
It is a sign of being in Doubt.
- “L” Chin Rest
It is a sign of performing a Critical Evaluation.
- Mouth Block
It is a sign of resisting Speech
XI. Posture and Gesture Examples – Sitting
- Arms Up
This position shows reserved and being defensive
- Arms /Leg Cross
Express the behavior of closed and unconvinced.
- Lean Forward
Ready to participate.
- Lean Back
Shows sign of confident and , superiority.
- Lint – Picking
When people cannot see the larger picture of what it is we are trying to do, they will pick out some detail and pick at that. We have, many of us, had the experience of being all dressed up, ready to go somewhere and feeling pretty marvelous, when someone – a parent, a friend, even the baby-sitter – picks a small piece of lint off our outfit.
Sign of disapproval.
XII. Posture and Gesture Standing
- Thumbs Out
Expresses sign of In charge, Dominant
- Fig Leaf
Explain self control, and being tense.
- Arms Out Palms Up
Open, sincere, conciliatory
- Table Lean
- Lean On
Unthreatened, Casual belongingness.
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