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David Crocker is an organizational change consultant based in Yorktown, Virginia.
Are your co-workers more interested in seeing their reflections in the boardroom table than in what you have tn say, The ability to communicate effectively is a “must have” in today’s business world. Thus, it’s important that professionals and entrepreneurs alike keep their presentation skills razor-sharp.
Even if you usually occupy an attendee-only seat, you will eventually be faced with the task of facilitating some kind of group forum. The following pointers can help you improve your delivery and increase your ability to deal with uncooperative participants.
Getting your point across. It takes more than self-confidence to communicate dearly and decisively. Consider these suggestions:
Use visual and audio aids. Outline your objectives on a slide or easel so the audience is clear about what you are going to discuss. Make sure the equipment is in working order before the meeting starts.
Involve the audience. Solicit their input and encourage them to ask questions. Also, don’t be afraid to use them as “props” to illustrate your points.
Don’t stand in one spot. Move around the room and establish eye contact to help people connect to what you’re saying.
Avoid the cue card Syndrome. Don’t read a speech with your eyes glued to index cards, charts or overheads. Work from an outline and trust yourself.
Avoid negative comments. Find positive ways to deliver bad news. “Nothing ever gets done right around here” is a definite no-no. Try, “At times, we’ve had challenges accomplishing our objectives.”
Allow time for feedback. Your presentation doesn’t end when you finish talking. Set aside enough time for post-presentation questions and input.
Handle audience criticism.
Here are some practical solutions to dealing with difficult people in a group setting:
The overbearing participant. Listen to everything the person says before you speak, and avoid emotional responses. Thank them for their comments and move on to get input from others.
The discounting participant. Remain focused on the issue and disregard any derision. If necessary, continue a private discussion outside of the meeting.
Make sure you know your facts. Avoid using the word “but”; it erases the value of everything said before. Disagree only when you know your facts are correct.