Business Presentations – For Greater Clarity Use Child’s Play

When presenting data or analysis to senior executives or committees it’s obvious that if they don’t understand your message then they won’t your concept. But something equally important is the issue of actually understanding the presenter e.g. the speed at which you talk, the way you pronounce words, or a strong regional accent can all influence the clarity of your message. One easy way to fix this problem is to articulate every word.

I’ve presented at a small conference – 90 people – the presenter before me was a Doctor. She was presenting some very important research about the need to use sustainable materials in the construction of public sector housing. A very important message; Al Gore, after-all, got a Nobel Prize for work on a similar theme.

But she mumbled her way through the presentation, mostly with her back to the audience reading her slides. Despite having a microphone the audience struggled to hear or understand what she was saying. Amongst her worst faults were dropping the ends of her words, especially when the letters, T or D, or ING were involved. This had the effect of making her mumble even more difficult to understand. And then when she noticed that the audience were losing interest she started to rush, which made comprehension even worse.

If she’d asked here’s the advice I would have given her: ANNUNCIATE! Specifically, pronounce every single word properly. The effect it has is to:

1. Slow you down so that you are better understood by your audience
2. Allow you to breath properly because you have slowed down, hence you don’t swallow your words
3. Allow you to think, so you can go off-script and really react to your audience
4. Make your facial muscles congruent with what you are saying.

Don’t underestimate the power of proper pronunciation it can have a dramatic effect on your presentation. Here’s how you do it.

The minute you close this article go to your nearest bookshop and buy “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr Seuss. Read it out loud for at least three consecutive nights before a presentation. Re-read it again just before your presentation. Then marvel at how much more time you seem to have and how much better your audience rates to what you say.

Remember if they can’t understand you, they won’t buy your ideas.