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Preventing Hindrances in Business Presentations

Preventing Hindrances in Business Presentations

No matter what the business, employees eventually engage in some form of public speaking.  In the corporate world, however, public speaking seems to be expected to take on a more sophisticated flair.  Individuals do not simply address a group of people in a room; rather, they use technology to create elaborate “slide shows” using presentation software.  These slide shows are often accompanied by reports or handouts that are overloaded with vast quantities of information that may or may not have any relevance to the listeners.  Somewhere in this process, the speaker is overshadowed by the message being relayed, the audience is overloaded by the sheer quantity of information, and the technology being used creates a process too formal and complex for it to be effective on many levels of operation.

Is it necessary to have this amount of formality, not to mention the information overload, in business presentations?  Think about the wait staff in a family dining restaurant for a moment.  Servers might be aided by a single white board at the door, a card inserted into the menu, or by a small table tent with information on it, but in most situations they have memorized the

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specials that will be presented for the day and are aware of the best way to present them.  According to Leech (2004), audiovisual aids might result in “between-channel interference,” which might cause confusion in the listeners due to the audience members from having to choose between signals to their eyes and to their ears (p. 122).  Visuals added to a presentation can enhance the interest of the audience, aid the audience in their understanding of the information and increase their memory of it, improve the information clarity of meaning for visual learners, and can improve the presenter’s professional image (Leech, 2004, pp. 122-123).

Enhanced Interest.  We live in a technology age.  Those of us who grew up with television and Internet news often prefer it to the flat and lifeless presentation that appears in the newspaper.  Leech explains that “punchy” visuals can “pique and revive interest” by providing information that is attractive to both the visual learner and the audible learner, ensuring that both types of individual will be attracted to the information and learn from it.

Aids Understanding.  Unlike the restaurant server, much of the information presented at business meetings is complex.  For this reason, illustrating what is being said can aid the audience in understanding (Leech, 2004).  In order to assist in such a manner, however, the information presented must present the information is such a way that it is readable by all member of the audience and is relatively free of the “noise” created by special effects such as fancy backdrops and intricate cut-aways between slides.  The inability to create easily read and understood slides “will only give prettier garbage” (Leech, 2004, p. 126).

Improve Clarity.  Presenters may at times speak unclearly or make points that seem to contradict each other.  Visual aids may allow the speaker to point to a slide in his or her presentation to illustrate the meaning of what is being said.  In order for clarity to be improved, the information provided in the slides must not duplicate precisely what is in the speaker’s notes; rather, they must expand upon what is being said as well.

Enhance Presenter Image.  Attractive and well-done visual aids can create a positive image of the presenter.  A presenter that focuses on providing the necessary information without distracting the audience or pretending to impart more information than is actually contained in the presentation can appear confident and knowledgeable.

One distinct hindrance that many people experience, outside of technology, is that of their voice.  Some presenters might expect the audiovisuals to carry the meeting for them, while in truth they are being overshadowed by the technology that they are using to deliver their message.  A presenter that sounds uncertain tells the audience that he or she has no confidence in what is being communicated (Brounstein, Bell, Smith, & Isbell, 2007, p. 42) and no amount of visual aid will disguise that fact.  If a presenter has difficulty speaking in front of an audience, his or her lack of confidence might result in the temptation to read information from the slides instead of paraphrasing it.  Reading from slides, however, often causes a presenter’s voice to become a monotone (Brounstein et al., 2007, p. 259).  This hindrance can be reduced if the data provided on the slides expands, rather than duplicates, the information provided in the presenter’s notes.

Presentation software and audiovisual presentation aids can help an individual create an interesting and informative presentation.  If the slides confuse the audience, however, rather than effectively communicate the meaning of the data, then they can create more of a hindrance than an aid to business communication.

References

Brounstein, M., Bell, A. H., Smith, & D. M., Isbell, C. (2007).  Business Communication.  Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Leech, T. (2004).  How to prepare, stage, and deliver winning presentations.  New York: American Management Association-AMACOM.

 

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