The author of this highly rated article is Roger Knowles.
Roger is a practicing attorney and an experienced professional speaker.
If you want more valuable advice from this expert, click here.
Stop the show! Let me out of here! Have you ever felt that way during a presentation? Speakers who drone on and on with the rhythm of a long snore can bore the listeners to sleep! Even those who subscribe to the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, can drive their audiences crazy – they often make use of too many pictures in their presentations. Worse still, they may couple cartoons with zany motion and irritating sound effects. A good professional speaker would never do these things.
There is a regular debate among speakers about the dubious value of images – especially those that come packed with the Power Point program. Cartoons, diagrams, images of comic-strip characters in various poses, drawings of buildings and more. They can move, too! At your command, the next image will fly in to the sound of a machine gun, of slide in with a ‘zip’ sound, or jump into focus with a loud ‘pop’. These special effects are seized on by would-be public speakers that are desperately seeking some light and colour to accompany their dubious spoken offerings.
The Power Point habit is one that can hook the seasoned speakers, too. It is a ‘crutch’ for many of us – we time our speeches to hobble along with the often-lazily-constructed slides, using the text to prompt us to regurgitate the next in a series of points. We know that we should not depend on it like we do, but we do.
We have forgotten the deeper implication of that saying about the ‘thousand words’. We often overlook the true power of an image. Oh, we can select crisp, and even creative photos and weave them cleverly into our presentations, but we forget that the most powerful of all images do not appear on screens – they are sketched in the minds of our audience members.
Indeed, an image projected on a screen can reduce the impact of a finely delivered point. Imagine a speaker had just said, “An aeroplane is a great example of man’s ingenuity.” If this were illustrated with a picture of a single-engined Cessna, it would not have half the impact of the soaring Boeing 707 that might be pictured by some of the audience members if words alone were used.
One of the main differences between a truly gifted speaker and one of the also-rans, is the ability to use pictures. The beginner shows slides, or uses clip-art, while the skilled speaker employs the magic of language to conjure up pictures in the minds of his audience. What a difference!
Some people are naturally skilled at creating mental images with their words. They can create pictures in the minds of their listeners. Drawing on their own skills to take advantage of the myriad images their listeners have in the archives in their minds, they skilfully recall sights and sounds, colours and textures, encouraging their listeners to imagine powerful images and to experience the feelings that accompany them. Women are more likely to do this than men, I find. In their everyday speech, women employ a narrative style, often illustrating their stories with adjectives and examples. Men are more precise, tending towards crisp verbal economy, describing facts and circumstances as concisely as possible. It follows that new speakers should perhaps consider the feminine style – from time to time during a presentation, at least. Telling a story, one that is relevant to your audience, is far better than flashing slides on a two-dimensional screen. The best stories create pictures while they resonate with, and evoke, genuine feelings. This produces a richer and more memorable effect than a thousand Power Point images.