4 Technical Aspects of Communication Every Speaker Must Understand

Author Dan Marlow

I recently sat through a presentation that left me wishing I had made a different decision about attending that particular event. This particular day was a reminder that an otherwise great speech can be destroyed by a speaker’s failure to pay attention to the technical part of communication.

You work hard on your presentation. Hopefully, you are passionate about your subject matter. So give your message its best opportunity to be heard by ensuring that these 4 technical aspects of your communication are covered. Nobody else will do it for you.

Technical Aspect #1 – The Stage

Elevate Yourself!

Lately, I’ve noticed more and more presenters speaking from the floor; some even wander around the audience. Somehow, he or she has developed the mistaken notion that this makes him or her more accessible to the folks. If there are more than several dozen people in the room, somebody is having a hard time seeing you. Worse, the lighting is always bad down there. So even the people who could see you really can’t.

Get up on the stage and stay there. If the facility does not have a stage, ask the people in charge to provide you with a platform that elevates you enough so the people in the back can see you clearly. If you have to leave the stage for a dramatic effect, make sure that your face will still be well lit, make your point and get back on the stage.

Technical Aspect #2 – The Lighting

Let the audience see your eyes sparkle!

Never, never, never trust the event organizer’s word that the room has plenty of light. He or she knows the room has plenty of overhead lighting but does not understand that the light must hit you in the face. Insist that you’re lit from the front. Studies show that communication is 70% non-verbal. If the audience can’t see the sparkle in your eyes, it will be much harder for them to pay attention.

Technical Aspect #3 – The Sound

Sound it out!

You must insist on quality sound that has crisp, clear coverage throughout the room. One would think that with today’s technology, this is no longer an issue, but one would be wrong. Make sure you arrive early enough to have a sound check. If you’re using a wireless microphone, make sure it has fresh (new, out of the package) batteries and that there is a spare wired microphone on stage ready for you when the wireless quits or makes screeching sounds due to radio frequency interference. I promise, it will happen.

Technical Aspect #4 – The Media

Don’t be PowerPointless!

PowerPoint or Keynote should never be the focus of your presentation. If you use it, use it sparingly. Don’t put your outline, long quotes or anything that requires your audience to read for more than 30 seconds on it. Use only short phrases, key words or bullet points. Skip fancy backgrounds, distracting animations and fancy fonts. Use large, bright, easy to read fonts, great pictures, simple graphics and short video clips. A media presentation is meant to enhance illustrations and help people remember critical points. It is not meant to help the audience keep track of how much longer it will be until you’re done. Less, in this instance, is truly more!

Unless you are showing a video clip that requires the lights to be dimmed, never turn off the lights that are focused on you, the presenter. Make sure the projector is bright enough and the screen is unaffected by the stage lighting. If you absolutely have to choose, then choose you. Skip the slides and stay in the light.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a speaker with a great message fail to communicate because he or she did not attend to the technical basics. You have a great presentation – make sure your audience gets all of it!

Have you learned a lesson about the technical side of communication? We’d love to hear about it!

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Dan Marlow is the Executive Director of Youth For Christ in Denver. In his former life, Dan produced local and national events for audiences from 200 to 20,000 working with many of the top communicators in the country. Dan has been on the SCORRE™ Conference Team for over 20 years.

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