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Presentation Skills - Part 3 of 6

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It sounds too obvious to even mention, but make regular eye contact with everyone. This draws them into your talk and builds rapport. Good eye contact conveys confidence and integrity to your audience. Certainly in a one-on-one situation you would make direct eye contact with the other person. However, in a group setting, such as a team meet­ing or presentation, you need to make equal eye contact with all participants. This is particularly difficult to do with the person sitting next to you or in the corners of the room. Look right into the eyes of everyone in the room. Take time to make real contact rather than just fleeting glances. Slow-moving, stable eye contact is a very important ele­ment of credibility. Look at one person and complete a thought, then look at another person for the next thought. This gets people's attention and draws them into the dis­cussion. Be careful, however, not to get stuck on the per­son who is agreeing with you or always smiles when you look at him. Work on making eye contact with as many people in the audience as possible in the first two or three minutes while they are settling into your presentation.


Learn to ask questions that get everyone involved and force the audience to process the information. The responses to questions let you know whether or not yousucceeded in conveying the intent of your message. Your response also helps the learner know that they did un­derstand what you wanted to convey.

There are two types of questions: open and closedClosed questions only require one-word answers—for ex­ample, "Is it raining today?" They do not promote discus­sion and give virtually no useful feedback. Open questions such as, "What is the weather like today?" stimulate think­ing since they require more compete answers. These ques­tions lead to further discussion and provide you with insight about what someone else is thinking and doing with the information you presented. They also create two-way communication and make you more approachable.

You also must decide whether to direct a question to the group as a whole or to an individual. When direct­ing a question to the group as a whole or just asking if anyone has any questions, make certain that you pause for at least five seconds and scan the entire group. This much time is usually required for someone to start talk­ing. If you do not wait that long, you will cut off their questions or even unknowingly tell them that you are not sincere about asking for their input. When directing a question to someone specific, be sure to use his or her name first and then state the question. This alerts them that they need to provide an answer and gives them time to start thinking about the response. This is also every effective way to draw the more introspective people into the discussion.


Part 1  Part 2   Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

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