September 17, 2010

Going sideways

Download audio here.

I heard someone speak recently whose "schtick" is to make comments under her breath, or toss in little side comments (kind of like a run-on sentence with lots of parenthetical statements) as she's talking. If I had added up all the time she spent going sideways (but I didn't, because I'm not obsessive that way), I'm guessing she wasted a good 3 minutes of a ten-minute presentation going off track.

This happens to be her style of humor, and that's okay if it's not overused. But beyond the humor, there was a lot of wasted time with extra comments that didn't help the direction of her talk.

The next time you give a presentation, pay attention to your parenthetical statements. Do you make them? And if so:

Is this something you do because you feel you haven't explained your main ideas enough?

Is it something you do to be funny?

Is it something you do unconsciously to avoid silence and pauses?

Videotape or audio record yourself when you can to catch these and similar little verbal habits. I won't say "bad" habits, because we each have our own individual style and these habits aren't bad unless they become distracting to your audience and take away from your message.

When you find yourself about to go off on a mini-rant or side comment, ask yourself if it adds to the presentation. Is it funny? Does it extend your ideas? If not, make the effort to skip it and keep going forward rather than sideways.

Learning to be aware of and then to manage your habits and quirks is key to a concise, clear message that your audience doesn't have to go through a maze of parenthetical statements to understand.

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Anke Tröder said...

This is a nice reminder that being aware of what our very own personal ticks and quirks are (especially when under stress) helps everyone in the room.

Blessed be the power of video feedback. And good friends.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Anke. Where would we be without video and audio to catch all our little quirks?!

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