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á Despite the fact that companies spend
more time and money developing
communication skills than any other
management skill, most of us don't
communicate well.
Public speaking and attentive listening
are flip sides of the same
communications coin. You can improve
both skills with these tips.
 


. First, get it together. Prepare so well


you know your material cold and can
practice how you say it. Develop a
worksheet that identifies your
objective, audience benefits, key
points, illustrations, and closing. Ask
several people to listen to your
practice run and have them critique
your performance.
. Second, give it hell. Warm up before
you go on stage. Knowing your
material and how you're going to say
it allows you to concentrate on making
eye contact with your audience.
Research indicated persuasion is 8
percent content (what was said), 42
percent appearance (how the
presenter looked), and 50 percent
style (how it was said). Watch for
things like mechanical gestures, vocal
monotone, and distracting nervous
habits. use visuals but don't talk to
them. Talk to your audience.
Finally, get better. Build on each
presentation to improve the next
one. Videotape your performance
and study what you did right and
wrong. Ask for feedback. Make
notes on what you want to
improve.

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á First, get your thinking straight.
Muddled thinking turns into confusing
communication.
á Say what you mean - exactly what you
mean.
á Get to the point. Good communicators
don't beat around the bush.
á And they don't waste words. The more
words you use to make a point, the
more confusing the point will be.
á Be real. You'll be more convincing and
more comfortable if you act naturally.
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á åpen up your arms to embrace your audience.
Keep your arms between your waist and
shoulders.
á Drop your arms to your sides when not using
them.
á Avoid quick and jerky gestures: they make
you appear nervous. Hold gestures longer
than you would in normal conversations.
á Vary gestures. Switch from hand to hand and
at other times use both hands or no hands.
á | : Don't overuse gestures.

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á The next time you're preparing a
presentation, remember this tip:
The first 30 seconds and the last 30
seconds have the most impact. Don't
waste these precious seconds with
"Ladies and gentlemen" or a weather
report. Launch right in with a startling
statement, quote or story. End with a
bang, not a whimper.
 

á of you're looking for a way to get an


audience's attention when you start a
speech, try this:
á "o'm going to make this talk short
because o read the other day that the
No.  fear of many people is having to
make a speech. The No. 2 fear might be
having to listen to one".
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á of you've agreed to speak to an


audience that you're not familiar with,
ask for the names of a half dozen
people who will be in the audience.
á Contact them and determine their
backgrounds and expectations for the
presentation. Thank them when you
start your speech. Doing this homework
will impress the audience.
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á When preparing a speech, begin at


the end.
á Write down what you will want the
audience to do as a result of
having heard your speech.
á Keep this in perspective as you're
preparing the rest of the speech.
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á Don't trust technology. Audio-visual


aids are not foolproof. Devise a back-up
plan in case you experience technical
problems.
á Have handouts ready. Copy and bind
them in advance, and always bring
extras.
á Stay within time limits. Show respect
for your audience members' schedules
by finishing on time.
á of you're part of a conference of
program with a number of presenters,
know the program. Make sure your
presentation fits with the broader goals.
á Linger a while. åften the audience
members are too shy to ask questions
in front of the group and will want to
speak with you after a presentation or
during a break.
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á Arethoroughly prepared and
comfortable with their material.
They outline their main points on a
blackboard, slide or easel. They
also make sure that all audiovisual
equipment functions smoothly.
á onvolve their audiences by soliciting
answers and information. Example: åne
speaker, addressing "Downsizing in the
'90s." had all the participants stand,
then sit down in stages if they or
someone they knew had been affected
by firings, layoffs, takeovers, etc.
Eventually the entire group was seated.
á Enhance their presentations by creative
use of newspaper clippings, cartoons,
music, appropriate quotes or relevant
experiences.
á åften use self-deprecating humor to get
a point across. This allows the audience
to identify with the speaker's foibles.
á Move around the room rather than
remain fixed behind a lectern, a
technique that makes them seem
accessible. Many greet people
individually as they enter the room.
á Avoidboring business audiences
with material that's common
knowledge
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á Writing can be intimidating. Unlike
speech, the written word has certain
permanence.
That's enough to block anyone's
creative juices.
á The first rule of learning to write well is
to write. The second is to understand
that writing is hard work. Follow these
guidelines:
á Always write with the reader in mind. Test for
clarity and interest.
á When writing a long report, use headings and
subheads. årganize it by sections.
á Use bullet points to set off information.
á Be consistent. of you list items beginning with
action verbs, don't switch to nouns as
illustrated here:
. Develop new guides.
2. Get management approval.
3. Print one hundred sets.
4. Communication.

á Changing number four to "Communicate"


sounds better.
á Avoid boring, overused words and
phrases such as "in regard to,"
"ballpark," "interface," and "input."
á Voice your ideas. Then write them
down.
á Get your message in the first
paragraph. Don't make readers
hunt for your objective,
á of you're typing on a computer, edit on
paper as well as on screen.
á Don't wait for inspiration. Just start
writing. You can come back to it later.
á Make your message fun to read. Use
quotes, facts, and anecdotes. Where
appropriate, drop in charts and other
visuals to add interest.
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á Be descriptive. Paint a picture with
sentences that allow for visual
cues. Examples: "let's examine
this closely", "To illustrate my
point..." or "omagine this scene."
á Be brief. Pretend you must get
your point across in seven seconds
or less, an eternity in television.
Don't say, "ot is our intention to
have a new and efficient method of
operation in place in 30 days."
onstead say, "We'll upgrade
operations in a month."
á Be a storyteller. Entice readers with a
clever beginning. Entertain them with
an absorbing middle. And reward them
with an unforgettable ending.
á Be plain. Use language geared for
junior high school rater than high
school comprehension levels. onstead of
"The experience left me enervated,"
say, "The experience left me tired."