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93% Style, 7% Content

Yesterday I took part in an all-day class on presentation skills. It was a lot of physical work, a little bit like theatre, with video tape rolling and lots and lots of learning by doing. The class focussed on articulation, gesture, body language, word emphasis, volume, speed, and tone. Thank goodness I learned how to project years ago, in high school. I pitied the poor speakers for whom English was a second language.

The statistic that I hated to hear was that speakers make an impact almost entirely through physical style rather than content. Sure, a speech without content is still a usually failure (unless your audience is, oh, the Home Shopping Network audience or the RNC), but a speech of good content, presented poorly, is almost always DOA. Unfortunately, watching my fellow presenters strut their stuff, I think I may have to agree. Dull speakers kill the message.

The instructor seemed to think I was one of the more amusing speakers in the class. Apparently, I have a good sense of humor, by Microsoft standards. I imagine this is like being tall by Pygmy standards.


( 2 sutras — Your wisdom )
Mar. 4th, 2004 01:10 pm (UTC)
First let me say that if they didn't think you were the stand-out, they didn't know what they were talking about.

Second, you're spot on with regard to humor at Microsoft. My team, though certainly amiable enough, doesn't seem to laugh. Or recognize humor. If you're too lively around here, you're looked at as if you have two heads. Humorless. And though hip-looking, they're oddly out of touch.
Mar. 4th, 2004 01:59 pm (UTC)
By and large, they don't get out much. And there is a certain "circled wagons" mentality among some groups as well, but I've seen that at other employers as well.
( 2 sutras — Your wisdom )

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