What make an “Excellent” presenter?

There are many factors that make a presenter “Excellent” and an even greater number of discussions about this topic. Here is a brief & concise new perspective for your consideration based on over 25 years of experience & observation.

The comments in this article are applicable to all “excellent communicators” ; trainers, public speakers, etc whether they bemale or female!  

Excellent presenters:

– First and foremost, are ALWAYS prepared beforehand to deliver the best presentation possible.

– Know that Communication Channels have changed over the past 60 years and that the world is now a much more visual place than at the end of the last century. They also recognizes that it is necessary to include much more visual input carefully & elegantly linked to auditive and kinesthetic elements to reach both the conscious & subconscious brain of each of his audience members so that each person can process, and understand, the information in the way most appropriate for them!

– Use psychology to structure the presentation in such a way that they takes the audience from the known to the unknown; from the general to the specific and from the simple to the complex in a logical & structured way and ALWAYS on the basis of the needs, wants and lacks of the audience and not their own!

– Anticipate, and think deeply about, the possible doubts and worries that the audience might have and how they, in the time available, can elegantly and effective resolve them during his presentation. This is what is known a part of the “previous preparation”. Many presenter make a presentation to “Cover the basics” which is often just a fast “cut & paste” from previous presentations and obviously does not require much preparation. This is often due to a lack of knowledge &/or training or, more commonly, a lack of time (which is the most common excuse).

– Ensure that the attendees feel implicated / involved in the presentation because the topic is designed specifically to resolve THEIR problems, worries and doubts on the basis of THEIR REAL Situation today! NOT what the presenter wants to sell them! Let’s be honest, who is going to feel involved when the presentation has little, or nothing, to do with the real problems of the audience and their need to find practical and real solutions?

– Synthesize information for the audience so that no time is wasted with unnecessary or redundant information.

– Carefully, and continually, OBSERVE the audience to identify how they are responding to, and mentally processing, the presentation and adapt their presentation accordingly – while maintaining FULL control! In my experience, a great many presenters do their presentation without paying much attention to the audience’s non-verbal reactions – they do their own thing in their own way and then complain when they have problems later.

– Understand and pay attention to the very clear differences between an “Oral Presentation” and a reading lesson.

– Have a very high degree of linguistic competence and understand how the use of language, or misuse of language, can affect the reception of their presentation. Communication affects both mind & body!

– Recognize the vital importance of their Non-Verbal Communication and are able to consciously control the visible manifestations of their mental state. They are aware that their NVC can provide the audience with indicators about their degree of security, certainty vs uncertainty, truthfulness, etc., and knows that it is their responsibility to ensure that this does not happen.

– Control the audience using verbal and non-verbal techniques designed to work on the subconscious as well as the conscious levels & do not let the audience take control of their presentation.  A presentation is NOT a “round table”, discussion forum, or a chat – it is a communicative activity was a specific purpose and objective to achieve. Remember: Power is given. Control is taken!

– Always ask the audience to “keep their questions until the end of the presentation to avoid getting sidetracked and that it is very possible that their question will be answered during the presentation”. Then they ensure that there is time for theaudience membershave time to ask their questions at the end of the presentation.

– Are creative and elegant in all areas of their presentation and are capable of showing this creativity in relating the content of their presentation to the appropriate attendees.

– Are realistic about the distribution of power in the room and knows how best to use it. (See below).

– Understand clearly that there is no second opportunity to give the same group the same, possibly improved, presentation. It is one-shot, hit-or-miss! If you lose control of the group or the presentation… all is lost!

– Use psychology, N.L.P., and the latest techniques to ensure that their message arrives in the way which they intended without being diluted or changed by the behaviour of the audience. “The meaning of your communication is the result you obtain, NOT the results you want to get!” (NLP presupposition)    

– Are prepared to take “calculated” risks to achieve their objectives. They also have great abilities and are not afraid to use them. The problem is that this type of person is rare and hard-to-find. How many presenters have actually bothered to take the time to obtain, and stay up-to-date with, the necessary knowledge and skills required to give them the self-confidence to adapt to & use the constantly changing information?  From what I have seen, very few!

What a great presenter DOES NOT DO:

– They do NOT buy a book and/or course written by the current “Guru of the Month” and published by “A leading Business Publisher” and follow it blindly, without considering any, or all, of the elements indicated above.

– They do NOT do exactly the same as everyone else who has purchased the same book / course or one of the thousands of similar books/ courses all professing to be the one, true solution!

– They do not look for, or use, simplistic formulaic mnemonics to answer every situation or element in the presentation.

– They do NOT reject out-of hand anything which conflicts with what they are currently doing: They evaluate it carefully based on the ideas outlined above.

– They NEVER gives a presentation which is just a “Master’s Class” reading lesson. They knows the audience members know how to read so do not insult their intelligence by reading aloud to them

– They do NOT let the audience interrupt them verbally during the presentation because it is not important for them to be seen as “Mr. Nice Guy” and they know that questions, etc., do NOT help stimulate participation; being “politically correct” or “ likeable” is less important than achieving his objectives;  they are not worried about being seen as too “controlling”; and are not afraid that the audience will get angry or feel bad if they prevents interruptions! However, the “Power” in the room tend to interrupt the presenter whenever they want to because they are used to doing so. Since they are the principal decision-maker, it is logical that the presenter pay attention to the “Power” – what they do afterwards is important: they do not get into a dialogue with the “Power” – they postpone the answer / discussion until later during the presentation. (see my article Direct vs rhetorical question for more information).

They do NOT try to please everyone in the audience. They knows that there are “Powers” who make decisions; “Influences” who directly, or indirectly, influence the “Powers” and there are “Hot Bodies” who are there to make the room look full and have absolutely NO influence over the “Powers” & “Influences” or the decisions made later. So the pays more attention to the “Powers” and “Influences” and less to the “hot bodies”. To paraphrase George Orwell “Everyone is equal but some are more equal than others!” (Animal Farm. 1945).

They are NOT afraid to move into the 21st century using techniques designed for NOW, and refuse to stay hooked on the techniques from the last century

I realize that almost everyone feels threatened when they discover that the world has changed; the logic and reality of the world today goes against everything that they have been doing for the last few years – their perceptions & techniques are no longer as cutting-edge as in the last century (literally). Many people refuse to accept that change is necessary, for them, because it means that they will feel uncomfortable. (* See the article mentioned below) The fact that the world has changed does not motivate THEM to change so they spend more time looking for reasons NOT to change than actually doing the changes!  There are none so blind as those who refuses to see!

Each person has to make their own decisions, and accept the consequences, about how to act in a presentation; Do it like they did in the 20th century or like they should do in the 21st century!

Recommended reading:
* Language, Psychology & a Humanistic Perspective on “Change Management”: Short link: http://wp.me/p2guX2-5s

© Ian Brownlee, Brownlee & Associates, S.L., Madrid, Spain. November, 2012.

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About ianbrownlee

Ian Brownlee, the founder of Brownlee & Associates has been actively involved in the field of interpersonal & transcultural communication since 1977. He has worked in universities and companies in the following countries: Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, England, The United States of America & Spain, as a teacher, university lecturer, trainer, researcher & consultant. In addition, his experience in living in these countries, and studying the language & communication and interaction styles of each has aided him in reaching a real understanding of intercultural and transcultural differences and how to resolve them. Ian Brownlee has various masters degrees from British Universities: One in Linguistics & Teaching English Overseas from Manchester University, one in Training & Development with a specialization in the area of Communication and Adult learning awarded by the University of Sheffield. He has also gained professional qualifications in Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy from various professional organizations. During his university career he has also studied elements of Sociology, Organizational psychology, Educational psychology, Psycholinguistics and Kinesics. He is a licensed Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and Master Trainer in NLP. as well as being a trainer in Ericksonian Hypnosis. He is a member of a wide range of professional organizations involved in Training, Applied Psychology, Hypnotherapy & Ericksonian Hypnosis, Psychotherapy, Interpersonal Communication & Cross-cultural Communication. He is also recognized by the Program on Negotiation, Harvard University, as a Negotiation Skills Trainer & Mediator and has been a collaborator on various projects with the program, and as such is in great demand as a negotiation consultant for some of the largest multinationals operating worldwide. His wide experience gained in multinational organizations in positions such as Director of Training, Communications Consultant and Negotiator / Mediator has helped many people to learn and apply new methods of negotiating skills and advanced communication techniques both in their private and professional lives. He has published various articles & books related to the field of interpersonal communication and he is the author of all the courses taught by Brownlee & Associates. He has lived and worked in Spain since 1985, initially as a trainer / Special Assistant in a multinational pharmaceutical company and then as the Training Manager for a multinational company involved in Clinical Analysis & Nuclear Medicine. Brownlee & Associates was formed in 1991 and currently has a small, highly-trained staff. While based in Madrid, courses are given world-wide either in English or Spanish. Brownlee & Associates currently work with leading international companies in the areas of pharmaceuticals , Information systems, luxury products, food & beverages, etc.
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6 Responses to What make an “Excellent” presenter?

  1. simon barlow says:

    I agree with almost all, and the one I find strange is to not let the audience interrupt verbally. Can they interrupt non verbally? If so, how? And if my message, desite using all of the above great tips and approaches, still leaves a doubt in the mind of the delegate, maybe stopping them from understanding the rest of the training, can they not ask questions to overcome that problem and so understand what follows?
    Thanks!

  2. ianbrownlee says:

    Thanks for writing, Simon.
    At the very start of the presentation ( during the preface), I always ask the audience to keep their questions until the end of the presentation to avoid getting sidetracked and that it is very possible that their question will be answered during the presentation.. Then I ensure that there is time for them to ask their questions at the end of the presentation. I have found that in about 90%.of my presentations, the questions ARE answered during the presentation.
    Training sessions are a totally different “Communicative Activity” and obviously questions are not only permitted but should be encouraged.

  3. Oran Jackson says:

    One of the wisest analogies of delivery techniques I have ever read, I appreciate your conclusions Sir.
    I have gathered a great deal of insight from your efforts and for that I thank you deeply for your efforts and intuitive thinking.

  4. Ashirvad says:

    This was a fantastic read and it was good to see that i DO some of the things mentioned hear and now look forward to implement some new aspects that i have picked up from you.

  5. Mark Grimm says:

    Sorry to disagree, but it’s a mistake not to take questions. The skill is how you handle them, not in avoiding them. Remember, every speech is about the audience, not the speaker.

  6. ianbrownlee says:

    Mark, You are free to disagree. I stand by my previous answer (above). Questions from the audience lead to sidetracking or deviation from the topic and extend the lengthe of the presentation.

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