Your audience brings a holistic perspective to your presentation. So what they see --as well as what they hear -- contributes significantly to how engaged they are and how they evaluate the time spent with you.
Let's look at the components of your visual package and examine how your audience interprets some of the things they might see.
What They See: You're looking at your slides or your notes instead of at them. You're looking at a spot over their heads. You're methodically shifting your eyes from side to side as if you were at a tennis match.
How They Interpret: Lack of preparation or lack of care about connecting with them or both.
What To Do: Communicate your confidence and enthusiasm for being there by holding eye contact with a random audience member for 3-5 seconds before moving on to the next person. Repeat throughout the presentation. Be well enough prepared that you don't have to rely heavily on either notes or slides.
What They See: You're fiddling with your hair, glasses, jewelry, moustache, etc. Your arms appear glued to your sides making your gestures wimpy and weak. You repetitively jab at the air when making a point.
How They Interpret: Lack of confidence. Lack of control.
What To Do: Videotape yourself to get an accurate picture of what you're doing with your hands. Then be intentional about developing a couple of hand gestures and use them mindfully as punctuation to the points you'e making.
What They See: You're slouching and transferring weight repeatedly from one foot to the other. You have one foot wrapped around your other ankle. You're pacing or you're rooted in one spot.
How They Interpret: Nervousness. Lack of confidence and comfort in your own body.
What To Do: Stand tall with shoulders back. Become aware of what your feet are doing [through videotaping or asking someone to observe you]. Move intentionally rather than randomly.
What They See: You're frowning. You're grimacing. You're gazing off into space. You're smirking when someone makes a comment you disagree with. You look bored when someone asks a question.
How They Interpret: Unprofessional. Arrogant.
What To Do: Videotape yourself speaking to a group so you can become aware of how your face looks. Ensure your facial expressions support what you're saying. If you're excited or passionate about some part of your presentation, show it. If you're annoyed, don't. Recognize the power of a smile to show agreement, empathy, enthusiasm and humanness.
Look at your presentation through your audience's eyes. Raise your awareness of what they see when you are presenting and make sure it is what you want to convey. Then you can be sure that your visual package is not undermining your message but rather enhancing it.
flickr.com/Premier Packaging C.C. 2.0