Thursday, 20 March 2008

BASIC TECHNIQUES of VERBAL PRESENTATION




South Island, New Zealand













...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)
Ok, I’ve just come back from a drama workshop with so many relevant pointers on our subject that I wished you guys were all there. I even half wondered if the facilitator might run a workshop for us at Taylor’s—you guys would have a riot! But anyways..

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.]

14 comments:

BADesign said...

Hi sir! good ending of your post with the dress code and the example given.. haha.. helped release a bit of the stress... hahah

here is my two cents worth on presentation skills.. i notice that some people tend to be not careful in their choice of words. in the sense that the words used may be quite inappropriate or even insulting. well, its always the case where the presenter is actually unaware of that. to the audience, people may take it negatively even though it wasn't meant to be negative. So, bottomline, be careful with your choice of words when you present. DO NOT make up your own words. If you are planning to use some fancy bombastic word, make sure you know the meaning of it...

HEHE

Richard Lee said...

hmm...im just curious tho as to how would presenting your work to a jury would offend your frens...and how wud bombastic words hurt people also in the first place if we didnt know that bombastic word that well, the likelihood of us using it and end up hurting someone is...low isnt it? in fact if it cud hurt our frens then it sud be a negative word. however if it is a negative word then wudnt it make our presentation look bad too? like saying something bad about yourself or something? so how does that add up? o_0""

sori i ges im blur, someone care to elaborate?

BADesign said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BADesign said...

well, i was saying audience.. not frens also.. audience can be business ppl, coporate members, anybody. if you are selling something to the audience which can be your clients, you wouldn't want to form a negative impression isn't it? certain sensitive things for example the most obvious and common which are racial issues have to be handled very carefully. if a person use the wrong words, he/she may sound like he is discriminating. so that will leave a negative impression.

by saying the choice of words. here is a very normal example:
-to say somebody looks old, the nice way is "oh you look so MATURED" ; the not so nice way is "oh you look so OLD"
-a certain culture may seem to be funny or weird to you. the nice way to say is would be "wow their culture is really unique and special" ; the not so nice way would be "wow their culture is so weird" (sounds like one is mocking and not respecting somebody's culture, which is not a nice thing to be said for a presentation)

see the difference in the choice of words ??

AND for the bombastic word i didnt elaborate much. what i meant was if somebody use a bombastic word and he/she is not sure or don't know the meaning or just guessing the meaning, he/she will just make a fool out of himself on stage.

bblsh said...

wah...looks like here are having some war!!peace.....act i m quite agree with bensoN!!Incorrect usage of words will make a lot of issue to be solve later...however..i m quite agree wif the power of 3(rated as 9/10..)the only 1 left i could only say that nothing is perfect...but sometimes we juz have too many point to talk...some times "gan jiong" ma...(aiya,I got too much of special occasion liao!!)however...dis help me a lotss and i hope to gain more experience n improve myself slowly!!ah jin....dont ever show off ur underwear again(renoma is ok,but dowan leopard 1!!!)

ian ng said...

hahahahahahaha....

Euric said...

although all points given are useful to our presentation, wt the underlying problem we all have is with time...and in my case, short term memory, but mostly, time. it takes alot of time to structure a presentation. and also in my case, i have problems remembering words, or sometimes that a proper sentence have to be strung in my head before it is said, or it'll turn out very Manglish. So i tink in terms of presentation, most of us have quite a clear idea of what to do, but other factors are affecting us.

about using bombastic words, i think one has to know who one presents to, bcs at the end of it, what matters is that u get ur point across, so if you are presenting to kindergarten kids, then use simple words.

I think the problem with "appropriateness of words" in it being offensive or insulting is quite simply magnified by personal relationship between each other. Bcs i think if some one likable would have said "someone is old" and laughed it off, or make it sound as if that's the only word in ur vocabulary for "old", i think people (we all) would understand that no insult was intented, unlike if someone that isn't well liked.

but it is very important to keep it professional.

ian ng said...
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ian ng said...

Yes, your relationship with the audience does tell you what liberties you can take. But you've probably pointed out the more important criteria, and i.e. the nature of the occassion or event.

It's the semester-end summation of a major project, the presentation of all your hard and serious work. So you're quite right to say it requires a professional standard. And this standard does mean diplomatic language spoken with a kind attitude. A kind attitude will be most widely accepted. (Unless you are using your building to make a political statement--in which case it is acceptable to spice your language with biased words.)

True, your level of bombast can be pegged to the IQ of your audience, but I think Jon's point was that you must know the meaning of every single word you use, esp the bombastic words. Because an incorrect use of bombastic words can give an impression of sloppiness or pure ignorance. Overuse of bombastic words can also give an impression of arrogance and pompousness (haha). However a big word here and there when absolutely appropriate can save time and form a good impression. For example, "I have taken an Emergent Wiscombian approach to my spaces (been inspired by Tom Wiscombe of Emergent)." Your jury will know what you mean. Or, "I have conglomerated my forms (gathered them into a rounded mass)."

The best way to tackle the problem of time and word memory is to start early, WRITE IT DOWN, and don't use a big word when a small word would do. That's how it works for me anyway.

Jon da Penang said...

mr ian....im jon da penang...badesign isnt me ohr...im innocent..i swear...

BADesign said...

sir, this is benson here.. LOL.. not jonathan..

and i agree very very much with the need to sacrifice points during a presentation. we really have to watch out on our audience. if they start to get impatient or restless you either give them another BANG in your presentation or just rap it up.

jinno_6 said...

wow.... i'm really happy that everyone take this prob so seriously but plz don b TOO SERIOUS on it.ok!? that's hurt... hehe...anyways, i did learn a lot from all the comments i received n now the most important thing for me is to apply those into my coming presentation. abt the underwear incident, i will b more careful and avoid wearing leopard boxer during final presentation day. thx for reminding sheng hao....hahahahahhahaha.....)

thank you... thats all for my comment(start learning from now on....)

ian ng said...

Ya, jon & bens, you are always using each other's things I sometimes dunno who is who...hahaha

Richard Lee said...

wahliao.....

i hope you guys are not thinking that i was trying to start a 'war' ya...just some healthy nutritious debates...lol...