What Makes Presentations Presentable?

Essay by GIgirlmel July 2004

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We have all sat in a presentation at one time or another and struggled to keep our eyes open or quickly jumped out of daydreaming and wondered how much of the presentation we actually missed. It is sometimes hard to pay attention to people giving presentations and even harder to focus on what they are really saying. For someone to really give an effective presentation they must not only make it verbally interesting but nonverbal aspects can be just as important, if not more so. Body language, visual aids, and attire are just some of the elements that contribute to nonverbal communication.

In the article "Presenter Behaviors: Actions Often Speak Louder Than Words" by Chaney and Green they discuss how some nonverbal elements are important for presentation effectiveness. According to the authors, eye contact with the audience is one of the most important characteristics a speaker should possess. By making eye contact with individuals, the speaker appears more confident and can also get a feeling as to whether the information is being understood by paying attention to facial expressions.

Gestures can emphasize or clarify the speaker's message to the audience. It will show the audience the speaker is passionate about what they are saying. There are some gestures such as folding arms across the chest or standing with hands on hips that should be avoided. Someone who clicks their pen or jingles change in their pocket can be distracting as well.

Visual aids should be used to emphasize main points. The audience will better understand the message and can help the speaker stay on track without having to use notes. Putting too much information on each slide can actually reduce the presentations effectiveness (Chaney).

The most important nonverbal element a speaker needs to be aware of, in my opinion,