5 tips for your face to face communications – specifically presentations

Face to face communication

In this age where most of us spend our working day communicating through emails and our personal time communicating via Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp and text  – how significant is face to face communication?

Well, according to a study at Harvard, face to face communication is 34 times more successful than an email.

That’s fairly significant, don’t you think?

So, when you are communicating to a group of people, be it to your team, the board, at a conference or in a pitch – you really want to make sure that you hit the mark.

The tips below focus on helping you with your delivery of the message.

1. Water, water but never milk!

Okay so, this is a bit random – but it is important!

Never drink milk before a presentation as it coats your vocal chords and impedes your vocal impact.  Sip water regularly (at least every 5 minutes) – if you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.

Sipping water also allows you time to pause during your presentation, and if you keep your glass of water next to your notes, you can take a sneaky peak as you sip your water!

2. Get that chin parallel.

Keeping your chin parallel to the ground really can help with your eye contact and voice projection.

This slight change to your positioning ensures you are not tilting your head downwards and projecting your voice to the floor.

It also ensures that you do not tilt your chin upwards, which can give the impression you are looking down your nose at your audience, while also straining your vocal chords impeding on vocal power and projection.

Watch former President Obama below and note his chin positioning – perfect!

3. Clench your buttocks.

Yes, that was not a mis-print, clench your buttocks.

This is a great exercise to do when you feel nervous as it immediately takes your focus from your nerves to the clenched area.  It also brings a little smile to your face, because you know you are doing it but your audience do not.  Unless you decide to tell them … which is not necessarily recommended!

4. Engage your audience by looking and locking

All too often I see speakers ‘light-housing’ rather than really looking and locking on individuals in their audience.

Light-housing is where you sweep your eyes from one side of the room around to the other side.  This is not engaging in eye contact.  It is giving them a cursory look.

It is far more effective to look at a person on one side of the room and really lock on them for a good 3 seconds.  Actually, you will often find that they end up nodding at you … nice!  Then, shift your eye contact to a completely different part of the room and lock on another person.  Don’t follow a formula for this – keep it as random as you can, it is far more engaging.

The bigger the audience, the higher the number of people who will feel you are looking at them when you engage with the person in front of, beside, or even behind you.  I am sure you have noticed this yourself when waving at a person across a crowded room – where several people wave back!

5. Less IS More.

Listen to ads on the radio, virtually all radio ads are 30 seconds or less.  Imagine that, like a radio ad, you are paying for each word – choose them carefully.

A good benchmark is to aim for an average of 120 words per minute.  This allows time for pausing and for audience reactions (yes, you will get them – if you are delivering with impact!)

Believe it or not – in the clip below former President Barrack Obama speaks at just 60 words per minute.  Now, in fairness, he was playing with the crowd so there was a lot of pausing.

At one stage (about 30 seconds in) he pauses for a full 6 seconds.

This is a short excerpt of his speech in Dublin in May 2011.  I was there in the audience, he had us in the palm of his hand within the first 30 seconds … he really is a true master of the art.