On the Road to Better Communication

I gave a talk this week.

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It was stand-alone without slides or props.  It was just me and a handful of notes.  I don’t have a magnetic personality and even though I have no fear of public speaking, I am not relaxed.  When I have PowerPoint slides as notes to talk from it is basically just reading a script to the audience.  For my presentation month I used a new technique called Beyond Bullet Points where the slides function more like a story board used in movie making.  You incorporate notes in the slides to keep you on track and as help to people who only have the slides later on.  But you can’t read these notes or the audience will walk out on you.  In preparation for this talk, I practiced so that I had the outline of the talk in my head.  Overtime, I even improvised and the actual talk was different from the notes I originally wrote.

This week was an old-fashioned talk with no props at all.  No slides to distract the audience from looking at me and expecting me to be engaging and making eye contact.  The talk was about one of my business activities to a group of business people who might either want my product or recommend it to others and my intention was to persuade them that my business was more than the product.  This was my first opportunity to talk about this business and I decided not to expound about the features and focus on one big benefit – the ability to support and enhance an individual’s ability to create and maintain relationships in their business and personal lives.  My reasoning was that this was what they want and they will buy services and products that produce it.

This was a short talk – eight minutes.  I originally thought that I would make my point about my business being much more that the products and then use the rest of the time talking about features,  I knew that there wasn’t time to get through all the features and finally I decided that talking about features would detract from my point.  I stuck to my decision.  I did not make it to the 2 minute warning and closed down the talk early.  Now I am left wondering about the impact.

So far, I don’t have any feedback about the effectiveness of my speech.  Nobody asked for my autograph or even asked to get more information.  The meeting format didn’t provide time for that.  I hope that over time, I will discover how successful I was.  It’s not a big setback if I blew this opportunity because I get another chance in a few months so I don’t worry about a big mistake here.  But I am trying to improve my communication skills and become a more effective speaker and so I need to know how I came across.  Good or bad, I will have a basis for improving my effort next time.

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