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Elements In Persuasive Presentations
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Elements In Persuasive Presentations

Three Essential Elements in Persuasive Presentations

Good presentation skill is not abstract, nor is it rocket science. With the internet and the multiple resources that can be found in bookstores or training available in the market in this subject matter, ANYBODY can learn how to make effective presentations. It is about acquiring the knowledge and APPLYING them. As much as a book can teach you (in theory) about how to swim, if you don’t hit the pool, you’ll never be a swimmer, agree? So, this first article will outline the elements in persuasive presentations.

3 Elements in Persuasive Presentations

A research conducted by Professor Albert Mehrabian from the University of California, Los Angeles found that there are three elements that add credibility to presenters. It’s basically summarized in the 3 Vs; verbal, vocal and visual. Just to explain each component a little more:

• Verbal – Your story, the CONTENTS of your presentation

• Vocal – Your voice, intonation, speed, volume, emphasis. It’s HOW you share your story

• Visual – Your body language, personal grooming, gestures. It’s WHAT you do when you share your story

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Which Is The Greatest of Them All?

To the surprise of many, it has been found that among the 3 elements, the one which has the GREATEST influence on credibility is……you may have got it right, VISUAL! Visual makes up a WHOPPING 55%, followed by vocal 38% and verbal 7%. BUT from my experience with many folks, the time that they spend on preparing the CONTENTS of their presentations FAR EXCEEDS the time they ever spend on preparing/practicing the vocals or visuals (if any at all)! How warped is that? If only they knew about this simple fact…and now you know, that’s an advantage isn’t it?

Aspects of Visuals

I’m just going to share with you about the most important element today and that is the Visual aspect. Again, even within the visual context, there are a few different aspects. These are:

• Posture

• Gestures

• Walking and

• Facial expressions

Posture

Yes yes, I know you wish you dig yourself a hole and hide there for as long as your presentation is, BUT you do know that you need to deliver your presentation so c’mon portray confidence by standing tall, anchor your body and feet and by that I mean standing on TWO feet! This definitely reflects confidence and energy. Remember, your audience will FEEL the energy from YOU! Do me a favour though, as you stand anchored, you do not need to look like a frozen turkey though you feel like one. Relax the shoulders but don’t slouch.

Gestures

Starting the presentation with open palms definitely shows openness and approachability. You wouldn’t want your audiences to feel like you are the live version of the Scrooge, do you? Don’t try to keep your elbows close to your body as you gesture – gestures should appear “open”.

One common pitfall of a presenter is putting the hands in the pocket. It just shows the audience how fearful you are. The worst thing is sometimes presenters (believe it or not) PLAY with the coins in their pockets! Everyone in the room can hear the jiggling sounds – how’s that for IRRITABILITY factor? You want the audience to pay attention to what you are saying, so don’t shoot your own foot by inserting such distractions in your own presentation. If you are not gesturing, just place your hands in a clasped position (not tightly), one hand on top of another in front of your belly button.

Be purposeful with your gestures. You need to use gestures to illustrate your points. So for example if you want to say that this is a big issue, you can use your hands to show big – this certainly reinforces your point! Having said that, do not over-gesture. Yes there is such a thing. That’s when you start to gesture every single thing you say. That’s CONFUSING, IRRITATING and just plain DISTRACTING. To check if you are over-gesturing, rehearse your presentation before a group of trusted friends and get their feedback.

Walking

And I mean walking purposefully, NOT pacing up and down like a headless chicken! You should walk to your position on stage confidently and anchor your feet and body at that spot. Once there, I will not walk unnecessarily. Just a personal example of when I used this technique. I wanted to illustrate the present state of things and how my proposal can CHANGE the state of things, so I stood where I was with my palms open directing towards my feet (my current position) then I took one big step, with the same open gesture towards my feet. This accentuates my point of moving from one state to another.

To capture your audience’s attention, consider moving INTO the crowd. You need not have to stand on stage all the time. You move right into their zone to help distracted folks re-focus on you. Hmm…isn’t this the same old method which our teachers used in school??? The moment your teacher is beside you, your senses are sharpened. That’s what you want!

Facial Expressions

Do remember to smile, smiling puts people at ease and it demonstrates sincerity. Use your facial expressions to also aid in reinforcing your points, like how you would use gestures to do the same thing. So, if you are relating an unpleasant event, slight movements of your eyebrows and lips to demonstrate sadness or disappointment will go a long way to gain credibility. What I like to do is to recount the incident in my head first and feel the emotions within myself before the presentation because I know that if I genuinely feel disappointed, sad, or elated, my expressions will naturally show, and that’s what you want! To be real and genuine.

Establish eye contact. You do this to build rapport and it definitely exudes confidence. I have had a teacher in my class whom I remember so vividly though it was decades ago that he taught me. He was always constantly looking at the ceiling as he was teaching. I don’t know why, but he just does so and it doesn’t engage me at all. Well, one thing is that after all these years I still remember him, but for the wrong reasons! I don’t think you want to end up being “memorable” this way. So look at your audience in the eye. If it’s a large group, segmentize them into sections and establish eye contact with a few different folks in each segment. But you wouldn’t want to hold the eye contact for more than 5 seconds please. Just ask yourself if you’d like that if you were part of the audience.

Conclusion

So, today we’ve learnt that there are 3 elements in persuasive presentations with visual being the greatest influence on the credibility factor. Within the visual aspect, there are 4 areas namely the posture, gesture, walking and facial expressions. When mastered well, all of these work together in tandem to create an impression of a confident presenter.


Street Talk

Great article Vanessa.Having been through the mill on this one myself, I would strongly recommend others to follow your messages. I also learnt as I got older and needed to give presentations to larger and "higher up" audiences two things. Firstly, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse again. Secondly if you haven't got as we say "butterflies" as you go to the event, then something is wrong somewhere. May seem a little odd the second one but for me it worked. Keep up the good work. If I can help on any future articles please let me know.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Hi Keith, thanks for your compliments. Great to know that you enjoyed this article. I am actually busy building up contents on my website and once I've got more stuff up there, I would be providing backlinks to my site through my articles on SA =) so do "drop by" my site ya?

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

This is great information Vanessa, good article on your site too. It's good to use humor to put points like this across.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Thanks Penny, comments like these are really encouraging! =)

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Each of these elements are important. Well written.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Hey Seth, great that you enjoyed the article. Thanks for the compliment - appreciate it! =)

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Good advice. A lot of people never think about many of these points before they do a presentation.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Yea Steve, the thing is most people I know are just spending about like 80%-90% of their time on preparing their contents and slides (inserting tonnes of words in it, cramping every single slide with words, using all sorts of animation, etc) that they neglect the other important aspects of an effective presentation. So next up, I will want to write on the other two points. =)

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

My first presentation in Public was on IM :) very informative Article and sure i will use this valuable info in my video marketing strategies

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Hussein, you just gave me a super grrrreat idea! Yea, when I was writing this article I was thinking of a normal public speaking situation. It didn't cross my mind that such info can be very relevant to internet marketers like yourself who do their own videos too! Now, I can help fellow internet marketers to make better videos for their followers....awesome! =) Thanks Hussein!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I really enjoyed the humor you used when explaining the important points. You constantly caught my attention- it was almost like you were in the room presenting this to a group and I could hear the tone change as you made comments like "And I mean walking purposefully, NOT pacing up and down like a headless chicken!" Great article.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Becky, thanks very much for your compliments! Yea I try to make it entertaining to keep readers interested in such "serious" topics

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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