Audiences don’t always know what they like about speakers (maybe they haven’t enough to like). But, they know what they don’t like. Just ask them. This is a list of the things audiences seem to dislike most about speakers. Now ask yourself : If I could improve one or two things about how I communicate, what would it be? Odds are they are on the list too. All these are common, but correctable, communications problems.
- He was boring! It was a boring speech.
- She spoke too long. He spoke way too long.
- I couldn’t hear her or make out what she was saying.
- His voice is so monotonous. Her voice is hard to listen to.
- He wasn’t clear. It was disorganized. She didn’t seem prepared.
- It didn’t seem to pull together. Something seemed missing.
- She lacked energy. He didn’t seem interested, inspired, or involved.
- I couldn’t tell what her main point was. I couldn’t tell any point he was making.
- She spoke too fast. He spoke too slowly.
- He seemed uncomfortable with the audience.
- He just read his speech (or notes). She never looked at the audience.
- He didn’t know what he was talking about. She was just faking it.
- His presentation didn’t relate to me. I got nothing out of it.
- She wasn’t entertaining. He wasn’t funny.
- He was so pompous. She seemed so self-important.
- She lacked credibility. He wasn’t believable.
- His charts, overheads, or writing were hard to read or understand.
- His speech was too abstract.
- She kept repeating the same points over and over again. She made too many points to follow.
So if these are some of what can (and do) go wrong in oral presentations, what is it like when things go right? What are the characteristics of a very successful presentation? What are the criteria of a speaker succeeding with an audience?
Successful oral presentations, be they before an audience of one or a thousand, seem to have at least seven common characteristics:
- The message is clear;
- The message is concise;
- The message is complete;
- The speaker is real – genuine and is believable;
- The speaker is (and is seen as) confident;
- The speaker and message connect with the audience; and
- The presentation produced results. Th audience gets something of value and/or they are motivated to act as the speaker intends.