Friday, May 06, 2016

Using Big Data to Create Better Presentations

Matt Abrahams has written a good article for Stanford Business School's Insights website. He describes the research conducted by Noah Zandan, founder and CEO of Quantified Communications. Zandan's company has used analytics to identify the key attributes of the most effective presentations by speakers and leaders of various kinds. Zandan's conclusions are based on the study of more than 100,000 presentations. Abraham's article is filled with great suggestions for improving your public speaking. Here are a few of the key points (excerpts below):

Avoid hedging language. Qualifying phrases such as “kind of” and hesitant language like “I think” can be beneficial in interpersonal communication, where they invite contribution and adjust your status relative to the person with whom you are conversing. But in contexts like presenting in public, they can reduce your credibility.

Vocal elements include volume, rate, and cadence. The keys to vocal elements are variation and fluency. Think of your voice like a wind instrument. You can make it louder, softer, faster, or slower. We are wired to pay attention to these kinds of vocal change, which is why it is so hard to listen to a monotonous speaker. In fact, even just a 10% increase in vocal variety can have a highly significant impact on your audience’s attention to and retention of your message.

Vital elements capture a speaker’s true nature — it is what some refer to as authenticity. For authenticity, Zandan’s team has found that the top 10% of authentic speakers were considered to be 1.3 times more trustworthy and 1.3 times more persuasive than the average communicator. Authenticity is made up of the passion and warmth that people have when presenting.  Passion comes from exuding energy and enthusiasm.

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