I recently attended a conference on Public Speaking. Though I had a fair idea on speaking to a large gathering, which I have done more than a couple of times earlier, I wanted to learn more and to have a formal learning on the subject. I was excited on my way to the venue. I was expecting to learn new things and get new insights on stuff that I could not make any sense earlier. I got myself fixed up in a nice seat in the hall which was reasonably in the middle, opened my notebook to write all the important tips I pick up during the talk.
The session started with the speaker telling us the importance of focus and how things that need to be taken care of will be taken care of and made us switch our mobile phones off. I did what I was told to do. The speaker then started his talk on Public Speaking. He went on showing many slides filled with concepts made of jargon. He was showing a slide, reading what is printed on it and moved to the next slide. It was like my school where the teacher will read from the books and we pretend to listen and understand. I officially got bored on the 3rd slide. He was having 63 slides more. I felt like I was watching a foreign language movie without subtitles. I knew something was going on but didn’t know what it was.
The speaker had now started showing the Top 10 tips for effective Public Speaking. I gathered some interest to listen to the list. He started the list with “Dress for the Occasion” which he clearly was and finished his list with “Know your Audience” which he clearly wasn’t. The speaker could simply not connect with me. Either most of the things that he said wasn’t comprehendible or he was speaking as if he has to finish reading the slides before everyone falls asleep. No doubt the content he was reading out was impressive, the slides were visually appealing and his accent and choice of words were stylish. But all this were not enough to compensate for the lack of interest the speaker failed to generate in me.
I found couple of more participants whose body language was showing that they aren’t interested in the talk. So, it was not only me who was feeling the disconnect. I had written down few points the speaker had spoken, rather shown on the screen, that I thought could be important. I’ll have to read them and try to make sense out of them myself. The talk got over with the speaker sharing his contact details and showing off his awards and accolades. I went to learn how to be a good public speaker and learnt how not to be.
In my opinion, what a speaker wants to say, what he says, what the listener hears and what the listener understands and four different things. A good speaker knows how to minimize the gap between them. The body language also plays a very important role. In my 10+ years of teaching, I have understood this and now have a fair idea of knowing if a student is attentive and understanding what is being taught by the extent of eye contact made between the student and the teacher. Irrespective of the knowledge one has on the subject, poor communication resulting in not knowing the audience will end up in a disaster.
What do you think? Leave your views on this as a comment.