Bringing It All Together…

Students who’ve taken my “Stand up, Speak up, Shut up!” public speaking course know that one of the keys to effective presentation is to speak based on the listener’s perspective–it’s not about what you want to say, it’s about what the audience will hear, feel and think. This relatively simple truth should not be difficult to grasp, but we’re instinctively self-centered and tend to think more about what we’re going to say (or present) than what others are going to hear or see.

A six minute animated presentation on Brain Pickings makes the distinction and will tempt you to buy the book “100 Things Every Designer Should Know About People” by Susan Wenschenk. My copy is on order, but the preview available on Amazon demonstrates the validity of focusing on the listener/viewer/reader’s perspective whenever we design just about anything–a website, a course manual, a flyer…this all comes together when communication is involved.

Here’s a the last point of the six-minute presentation: “People imitate your emotions and feel your feelings.”

I’ll confess (please don’t hate me for this) that many years ago I did some telemarketing training. One of the exercises we’d conduct was to have students sit back-to-back so they couldn’t see each other’s face. An observer would count the number of times the marketer smiled during the conversation as would the “customer” who couldn’t see. The accuracy of the counts was amazing. People hear a smile. A third observer would watch the customer and count smiles–there was always a strong correlation between the marketer’s smile frequency and the customer’s. That customer unconsciously imitated the marketer’s emotions.

That’s only one sense–hearing–so we would do well to consider what all the channels (senses) are communicating regardless of the media. Most training or education involves auditory (speaking/hearing) and visual (slides/seeing). Watch the six-minute presentation and you’ll discover which one most often trumps the other.


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