...we will get there...Heaven knows how but we'll get there...we know we will...and the road will be muddy & cold..but we'll get there..
(song by Simon & Garfunkel)
Oral=spoken, not written; Verbal=concerned with words, oral. Hence we’re talking about presenting with the spoken word, and in our case in English.
This is such a vast and fascinating subject it actually requires a series of workshops. However for our immediate use we just need to start with a few things. We can advance when we’ve mastered the basics.
Whatever Jon, Issac, Jun Hao, Richard & Vidhya have shared pulsate with life. They come straight from the hearts of practitioners in the same arena. What thrills me most though is that while they are all aware that presentation skills can be acquired in the same way that you can learn to cook or parachute they are also acutely aware of the morale and moral side of things. We all need to be encouraged as we try. And somehow we have to give back to the community that bred us.
THE POWER OF THREE: Always remember that more than 2/3 of the average audience can only retain no more than 3 points of any presentation. And if you want to disseminate a lot of information tuck them under 3 main headings. Somehow, ppl remember triplets better.
Thus, as an example, Jinno’s scheme could have been remembered in his own mind as follows:
1. The historical importance of the triangle suggests that we do not clutter it with built forms.
2. An analysis of the surrounding buildings indicates that there are only a few places where we can build the visitor centre.
3. One of the best ways to display the products of my trade is to make use of the surrounding older buildings.
He could have then tucked in all the subset points as follows (this is only an example).
1. fragment the building mass; connect with tenuous, “lightweight” sky bridge; encourage activity on the triangle with audience view from sky bridge; etc.
2. build on the car park with the following accommodation; build on the “factory” with the following accommodation; relate grouping of accommodation to given program; describe the route through the building
3. display signboards on the facades of which building?; what visual experience will result?; the architectural language chosen for my building is….and because….;
You see, with 3 solid headings (which you must choose carefully) you can keep on tucking in good sub-points as you collect them from your crits, discussions, research, brainwaves, dreams, etc. And near the presentation day, place these points in order of priority according to significance. On the presentation day, play it by ear. Dish out according to your feel of the audience mentality.
Now, I know that demystified like that it all seems so dry and dull. Not so. Remember the Power of 3 is only a mental framework to help you hang your facts. Or, if you like, they are the trap for all your uncontrollable & factual pigeons which you will masterfully dish out to us the consumers according to our appetite. (I like mine roasted with honey, preferably from Kelantan.)
You can actually write out your whole presentation like an essay with that structure and half read half speak it. That’s ok for a basic presentation. But it would be better to memorize it. Otherwise use cue cards. (More on this later.)
But when you get more practiced in presentation, you can think of tweaking it into an ‘advanced’ format. You can jumble up the sequence of the numbering according to a ‘stream of consciousness’ tugging. This is advanced and requires a good command of the English language and a maturity that can sense and control the thought patterns of the audience.
And later when presentation has become a breeze you could even play cheekily with The Power of Three! Once I had to give a speech to the Rotary Club or something and, with no preparation, I went up and said, “I have just 3 points to make tonight. The 1st point is….(and I spoke a bit about that). My second point is…(and some more about that).” The audience listened enraptured. And as I smiled and spoke entertainingly I slowly realized to my horror that---OMG I don’t actually have a 3rd point!!! So, still smiling confidently I said, “And now for my final point…and my 3rd and final point is that my 1st point is the most important point!” And with that I sat down. The audience applauded loudly and with great laughter.
The POWER OF THREE is about organizing your content.
DELIVERY is the other indispensable discipline we all have to learn.
1. Stand up straight. Face the audience. Look them in the eye. Smile. Wait for the silence. No need to panic. They want you, not you want them. Start when you have their full attention. (Jin, you were bending over and looking at your drawings most of the time.)
2. Project your voice to the entire audience/room/hall. This usually means your voice must be loud enough for the guy at the back to hear clearly. Speak as if you were speaking to the guy at the back. Maintain this volume throughout your presentation. (Voice lessons available upon request.)
3. Your opening line is important. It can be an overview agenda statement, an anecdote, a statement of a preoccupation, an observation regarding the site or brief, etc. (We’ll discuss this at our tutorials.)
4. Go through you facts calmly point by point. Remember, you are in control. You have the story they want. If there’s an interruption or a question that seems to disrupt your flow, just say, “I take your point, I have a view on that but I’ll come back to it at the end of my short presentation.” Or something like that. And carry on. Never antagonize your audience, and esp. your jury...haha.
5. Close smartly and firmly and say thank you. (We’ll practice at our tutorials.)
6. Dress appropriately: Architectural presentations are essentially serious affairs. It’s ok to be lighthearted and humorous but the underpinning agenda is no laughing matter. We’re dealing with buildings which are usually proposals that involve huge investments by clients and society. In a college situation it’s ok to dress casually but smartly. Our dear friend, Jin, unfortunately and unintentionally exposed a large part of his underwear to the audience, which caused Jon and partners to be unusually excited. And this little commotion just accelerated the hilarity of the entire presentation. Remember, you want the audience to laugh with you, not at you.
Two other important factors are LANGUAGE and CONFIDENCE. But that will have to wait for another day. I need to sleep now.
[Please comment on and rate this article. Will be received with much thanks.]