The Art of Speaking: Communication and Negotiation vol. 2

In the last newsletter, we talked about several improvement points that we need to address in order to bring our speaking to a higher level, but we still keep being reminded by that part of our brain which says: Yeah, how could this be difficult, anyway? You speak every single day so you must be equipped for any kind of conversation or presentation, right?

Well, it turns out that we need to be careful and address different situations in different ways. One context is daily meetings where we have a pretty fixed monologue pattern that is somewhat easy to remember and repeat that we previously discussed. A completely different one is holding a demo, for example, during a sprint review meeting or in any other situation. But what exactly do we mean by that?

Everyday communication should not be confused with this topic, as we don’t even behave in the same manner.

While presenting, we need to understand that fast speech is not pleasant to listen to for a longer period of time — especially when it is something our listeners want to learn or understand even the tiniest details from what we are trying to communicate. When we slow down our speech, we get more time to strategize and use the connectors such as however, on the one hand, on other hand, therefore, not only… but, etc. We are also rewarded with the time to more clearly, concisely, and precisely convey the message.

Even though we created the presentation and we know everything that we are going to talk about, we should remember that we need to finish one thought before moving on to the next one.

It often happens that people, when presenting, move back and forward from one slide to another. Although this might sound like a logical thing to do, especially because we want to refer back to something from the previous slide, we should refrain from doing so mainly because there is a high chance that we will confuse both ourselves and the audience. If you want to make a reference to the previous slide, you can create a copy of the section you want to show and place it within the new slide, or within the next one.

A good strategy can be crucial for many presentations. Planning in advance is one thing and maybe an easier one, but sticking to the plan may prove to be a problem.

To avoid confusion and to make things easier, you sentence linkers and connectors, such as on the one hand, on the other hand, firstly, secondly, thirdly, additionally, lastly, however, although, etc. to remind both yourself and the audience of the direction you are taking during the presentation and of the connection between different parts of your talk.

Lastly, but definitely not less importantly, use the signposting technique to guide the audience in the direction you planned to and want to.

Signposting is a technique that is extremely useful as it lets the audience know what you are about the say and it helps them follow you more easily. For example, now you are expecting that you will read one example because of the expression you read at the beginning of this sentence. Luckily, the whole sentence does serve as an example of signposting, and besides for example or for instance, we can use all the abovementioned sentence linkers and connectors along with I would like to talk about, here is an example of, before we start I would like to emphasize, there is an interesting story, etc.

Give these techniques a go as you will most certainly find some of them useful for your style of presenting. Also, you may find recording yourself an interesting approach, as it will directly show you the things you are doing well and the things you are not.

Till next week,
Take care!

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