Understanding the Outside

"It's not what you say, it's how you say it!" We've all heard that before. And it's especially true when making a presentation.

A study of intimate relationships found that 55% of everything you say is what you look like when you say it. Another 38% is how you actually deliver the information. And only 7% is what you say. Only 7%! You might say this is a measurement derived from personal relationships and not business ones. I say our personal and business lives are so interrelated that it's hard to separate them. To me, this says that the biggest part of communication is nonverbal .


The referenced study is from work done by Albert Mehrabian, PhD, and Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA. Dr. Mehrabian is known for his work in the field of nonverbal communication, particularly body language. His findings on communication are described in his book, Silent Messages , which deals with all facets of nonverbal communication and with combinations of verbal and nonverbal messages. The book contains reviews of Dr. Mehrabian's own and others' research findings on important elements of subtle or implicit communication. Communicators, leadership trainers , and political campaign managers often make use of these findings.

Dr. Mehrabian specifically notes, "The equations regarding differential importance of verbal and nonverbal messages were derived from experiments dealing with communications about feelings. Unless a communicator is talking about (his) feelings or attitudes, these equations are not applicable ."

In our discussions, feeling is definitely an issue. From a visual presenter's perspective, the emotional link to an audience is critical for an effective delivery of nearly every message and makes this study especially relevant to what is covered in this section of the book. Thank you, Dr. Mehrabian!

Here's more proof: You can speak up to 150 words per minute, but you can listen to over 700 words per minute. Do the math and you'll find that more than 75% of the time you are processing nonverbal cues. These cues are important.

Regardless of the exact percentages, the bottom line is that delivery skills make or break the moment. This is not to say that content needs to be ignored, of course. We just spent two chapters on content! That would be like saying a playwright's words are meaningless. Not at all. But it is true that the success of the spoken lines depends on the actors. And yes, bad Shakespeare does exist ”I've seen it. (Unfortunately, I've even been part of it.) Poetry can easily be ruined by a poor performance.The actions of the presenter, from a physical and vocal standpoint, can add value to the visuals and make the entire event more effective. During a presentation, the brain must process a large amount of content. Therefore, the presentation needs to be as streamlined and effective as possible; that is, clear, concise , and to the point.

Okay, now you know that the greatest percent of your communication effort is physical. It is a combination of your visual and vocal delivery. So, you need to develop the related skills to become a more visual presenter. But visual and vocal skills are directly linked to the way you think and feel. Your mind and heart play a significant role in your delivery style, just as your body and your voice do.

A Delicate Balance?

I work on a theatre principle called "off-balance" perspective. I apply this view to the message, the media, and most often to the mechanics of a presentation. The off-balance approach is a one-sided push for consistency. If I can shift your position to one side ( off-balance ), then I've made some change in you.

Your "position" might be your stance on a message. It might be your way of looking at visual content on the screen. It might be your view of the presenter in the room.

It actually matches the rule of thirds in photography. If you look at a framed image in three vertical sections, you should use the outer sections for the subject. In other words, when you take pictures, try not to center your subject. The image is more interesting because a bigger picture emerges for the viewer's eye to complete. This is not always done, but if you glance through magazine photos, you'll notice that most shots of people have them positioned more to one side than the other.

This off-balance approach is very effective. I use it often in developing, designing, and delivering presentations.

Through all of this, don't forget to smile. If you're not having a good time presenting, how can anyone have a good time watching? This doesn't mean that you have to tell jokes all the time, but the presenter has more impact with an inside smile. It's called energy. Without this energy, your speaking will be flat, uninteresting, and definitely less effective. It only takes two muscles to smile. Try it.

The mechanics of delivery are partly external (form) and partly internal (function). That's why two chapters are dedicated to these mechanical skills.


MediaNet's CD-ROM, "Mechanics-Basic Skills" ( 2002, MediaNet, Inc., New York, NY), provides an interactive view of the mechanics of form discussed in this chapter, including video, audio, and other animated examples of the external delivery skills.

Let's start with the external skills, the mechanics of form, because your form is the first impression processed by the audience. The skills covering external form involve

  • Conquering fear

  • Using your body

  • Using your voice

Special Edition Using Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003
Special Edition Using Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003
ISBN: 0789729571
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 261

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