"I know this is a lot of new information"

Sometimes presenters try to reassure their audience by saying “I know this is a lot to take in”, or “I know this is a lot of new information.”

That tends to backfire, because it comes off as condescending.

It can also send the message that it’s not ok to disagree, and that if you disagree, the presenter will take it as not understanding what they’re saying. This is particularly the case in religious presentations and political presentations about privilege.

It can also send the message that you’re not expected to understand and that it’s not ok to ask for clarification. And that spending the whole presentation really confused is an acceptable outcome.

Your goal should be for your audience to understand. Confusing your audience isn’t a virtue (unless sometimes if you’re showing them that a topic is really complicated, some amount of confusion in an arc of communicaiton can be ok. But it’s important that understanding and clarity be the goals.)

The point of presentations is to teach your audience something. If your audiences regularly fail to understand your presentations, that means that they need to change in some way. Saying “I know this is a lot to take in” isn’t a solution.

13 Ways To Be A Great Public Speaker

Rehearsing your body language and getting proper rest are effective tactics for reducing public speaking anxiety and ensuring that you give a memorable presentation. Read on for a round-up of top public speaking tips from Stanford GSB faculty and guest speakers:

1. To manage anxiety, reframe the situation as a conversation rather than a performance. http://stnfd.biz/vJAix 

2. Set your goals at a reasonable level so you can overachieve. http://stnfd.biz/vJAjZ

3. Eat a healthy diet, get proper rest, and exercise to alleviate nervousness. http://stnfd.biz/vJAlX 

4. Diversify your material to keep people’s attention. http://stnfd.biz/vJAom

5. Use analogies to help your audience quickly process and understand new information. http://stnfd.biz/vJApw

6. Add emotion and variety to ensure people remember what they hear and see. http://stnfd.biz/vJAr7 

7. Make sure your content is relevant and easily accessible to your audience. http://stnfd.biz/vJAsS  

8. Add visuals to your slides. When you deliver information verbally, people only remember 10% of it. If you include a picture, retention is 65%. http://stnfd.biz/vJAuC

9. Spend more time rehearsing your body language than your speech. http://stnfd.biz/vJAwf 

10. Include a strong ending. Do you want people to stand when you finish? Or repeat a key takeaway? http://stnfd.biz/vJAxv

11. Practice your presentation beforehand to ensure your body language matches your message. http://stnfd.biz/vJAzh

12. Get to the venue early and imagine your body expanding to fill the room. Own the space. http://stnfd.biz/vJABs 

13. Keep your hand gestures symmetrical when you’re trying to be convincing. http://stnfd.biz/vJACJ 

Imagine everyone in their underwear. And imagine they’re in their underwear because a tornado just blew through the lecture hall, ripping everyone’s clothes off. But somehow, it left you clothed and unharmed. You stood strong and impervious while the ravishing winds spun around you— as if you were some sort of ‘chosen one’ inherently superior to all mankind. And now you stand before this room of lowly mortals, as a God. Go ahead, give your presentation.

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This Week on Great Talks

Susan CainThe Power of Introverts — TED (2012)

Susan unpacks the social myths surrounding introversion in this passionate and personal appeal.

Elizabeth GilbertYour Elusive Creative GeniusTED (2009)

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love shares her ideas about the nature of genius and how to manage the inherent emotional risks of creativity.

Bret VictorInventing on PrincipleCUSEC (2012)

Bret Victor explores his personal philosophy on making things by showing how to create new things based on your beliefs.

Mike MonteiroHow Designers Destroyed the WorldWebstock (2013)

Mike argues that designers are directly responsible for what they put into the world but don’t consider this impact enough.

Malcolm GladwellChoice, Happiness and Spaghetti SauceTED (2004)

Malcolm Gladwell describes the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce.

Merlin MannInbox ZeroGoogle Tech Talk (2007)

At Google, Merlin Mann details his philosophy on email and how to manage the competing priorities it introduces.

Max Temkin, Cards Against HumanityXOXO Festival (2013)

Max shares the origin of Cards Against Humanity and proves that you can make great things without knowing what you’re doing.

On a personal note, thanks for all of your support and submissions. More great talks coming very very soon. Submit your favorites here. Thanks to strle for giving me the idea for this post.

Planning decisions and activities when you are presenting

If you’re asking a group you’re presenting to do an activity, it’s important to decide in advance how the activity will work.

If you want your group’s input about the activity, plan in advance how you will solicit it. If you want them to choose a topic, plan in advance how that choice will happen. Just asking the group what they want isn’t enough. Things go much more smoothly when you plan the ways input and decisions will happen.

Some examples of how to do that:

  • "Break up into small groups. Your group can talk about either popsicles or hamburgers."
  • "There are two options. We can either talk about experiences with discrimination or tactics for countering it. Let’s vote. Raise your hand if you want to talk about experiences. Raise your hand if you want to talk about tactics."
  • You can also gauge which direction to go in by questions or comments your audience is making.

Don’t ask your group to make a complicated decision without support. Either make the decision in advance, or plan a straightforward way to make it in the moment with your group. Winging it is generally awkward and ineffective.

You’re a pretty monkey, and you know where all the bananas are.” That’s what I tell myself before I go on stage to hundreds or thousands of people. I really do. It makes me laugh and it calms me down. If that sounds too ridiculous, instead repeat to yourself something like: “I’m here because everyone wants to hear my story. I’m just a person on stage sharing lessons with other people. That’s all this is, and it’s going to be great.
— 

An Introvert’s Guide to Better Presentations — Medium

Hint: This guide to public speaking is gold for us non-introverts too.

5

Last Week On Great Talks

Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking

Palmer tells stories about her generous community of fans and shows how much people want to help us if we just ask.

John Green, Thoughts on How To Make Things and Why

John talks ”broadly about being alive, and whether there’s a point to it, and whether that point is derived or constructed, and why we even bother to make things.”

Susan Kare, Iconographer

The icon designer for the original Macintosh talks about designing universal symbols and the history of computer iconography.

Lawrence Lessig, We the People, and the Republic We Must Reclaim

In his trademark style, lessig shows how corruption in politics is one of the most pressing issues we face in America and what hope we have to stop it.

Merlin Mann, Scared Shitless: How I Learned to Love Being Afraid of Pretty Much Everything

Merlin shares emotional stories from his life and from history to show us why fear isn’t always a bad thing.

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