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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Presenting with Visual Aids

The visual aid is an invaluable tool which should be utilised in a presentation.

Remember that over 70% of communication is non-verbal. Hence, visual aids can definately help to enhance the quality of a presentation.

What are Visual Aids?
Visual aids are materials which you can use during a presentation to help your listener understand, accept and be motivated by what you have to say.

You should use visual aids when you need to
1) Focus the audience's attention
2) Reinforce your verbal message
3) Stimulate Interest
4) Illustrate factors that are hard to visualise

You should NEVER use visual aids to
1) Impress your audience with overly detailed tables or graphs
2) Avoid interaction with your audience
3) Present simple ideas that can be more easily stated verbally

Examples of Visual Aids
Examples that can be used to enhance a presentation include:
1) Computer-based visuals such as Powerpoint
2) Overhead transparencies
3) Flipcharts
4) Whiteboards
5) Props
6) Video
7) Photographs

Some questions to ask yourself when you make a presentation are
1) Are your visual aids appropriate for the speech and message that you are trying to convey?
2) Do the visual aids help you to carry your point across?
3) Are my visual aids simple, clear and concise?

Some addition presentation tips from my own experience are
1) Be careful not to block your visual aids when you make your presentation.
2) Do arrive earlier beore hand to check the working condition of the electronic equipment such as computers, projectors and microphones.
3) Visual aids are good, but you can make a good presentation great by integrating effective body gestures in your presentation.
4) Use more layman terms to elaborate your points. When you are presenting, there is a tendency to use jargan within your speech.
5) Do add a personal touch to your speech. You can do this by providing examples that the audience can relate to.

Here are some addition resources and tips for a better presentation
The 3 Simplest Steps to a Better Vocal Presentation
10 Attention Grabbers for Better Public Speaking
Public Speaking Via An Audience Centered Approach
Presentation Tips

Monday, October 4, 2010

How a Complement can turn into an Insult - Communication Process

Interpersonal communication is indeed a tricky thing to manage. Messages are frequently distorted though the communication process, such that even an intended complement might even turn into an unintentional insult.

Case in point. I was talking with a good friend the other day. She pointed out something that i thought was very interesting. She actually felt offended when somebody complemented how hardworking she was.

How could this be, you might wonder? The adjective "hardworking" certainly must be complementary, one must imagine. The free online dictionary defines the word hardworking as "habitually working diligently and for long hours." Certainly this must be a complement, especially considering the Asian culture where we both come from, where the trait of being a hard worker is encouraged and celebrated.

In her opinion, she linked the word "hardworking" with requiring long hours of work and effort in order to get things done. This is opposed to someone who can achieve the same result with little effort.

This is an example as to how the message gets distored as it moves from the receiver to the sender. There is a process of coding and decoding of the message which distorts the message from its original meaning. As mentioned in the post "Understanding the Communication Process", this could be due to cultural factors as my friend has lived many years of her life in an European environment which is different from an Asian environment.

And that is how complementing someone as being hardworking can actually turn into an insult. And i'm not even referring to complements that sound like insults either or "complisults", an urban slang meaning a half-compliment and half-insult.

The point to take away from this message is that unintentional miscommunication frequently occurs in our daily lives. This can happen anywhere, from our home to our workplace. This is a result of many different distorting factors as information flows through the channel of communication.

There is a need to put in the extra effort to ensure that your message is properly received and interpreted by the other person. Continue to be mindful of other person's feelings and continue to develop your interpersonal communication skills.