By Jim Endicott
I’ve always gleaned a lot of coaching fodder from TV newscasters. When they are comfortably behind their anchor desks and able to shuffle papers and keep their hands occupied, they’re pretty smooth. But put them in front of their news desks to do a promo spot or a special feature and watch their hands. They simply don’t know what to do with them!
If you’ve ever had to speak from behind a lecture, then you’ve experienced the same predicament – anxious hands find nervous things to do and make no mistake – you’re sending signals of low confidence whether its true or not.
But for this article, I want to shift gears a bit to the weather guy or gal. Their spot usually comes at the end of the newscast and depending on what they have to say – you’ll either hate them or love them.
Here’s what I want you to see next time you’re watching the weather. They have an electronic device in their hand. You hardly know it’s there but many are masters of its use. Somehow they are making you believe they are able to highlight temperatures, change 3D settings, switch views and push high pressure zones out to sea with their fingertips. Although the technologies are evolving – for most they are using the small remote devices to advance pre-created images and animations. (Sound familiar?)
Here are 3 lessons that every presenter can learn from their local weather person:
1) They don’t point their control device like a phaser weapon, they subtly click the button as they gesture to the screen. What is the perception? They are somehow seamlessly creating change by their spoken word. No fanfare. No stop and point or technical pauses while they explore the buttons on their remote – just smooth and seamless interaction.
Here’s the lesson. If you’re still using an IR remote during your presentations, ditch it for an RF device and practice it’s stealthy use until people forget its in your hand.
2) They always know what’s coming next because their gesture anticipates the change. If you want to fall into the category of master presenter, do the same. For example, gesture to the screen from bottom to top (while you click your remote while it still rests at your side) and let your audience observe the bar chart growing from bottom to top.
Other ideas? Touch elements on screen as you click and highlight them. There are endless variations on this but here’s the point – make your technology transparent and anticipate.
3) Their audiences are more important than storm clouds. Can you imagine a weather man who doesn’t take his eyes off of a weather chart? He wouldn’t have a job very long.
Weatherpeople never lose track of the fact that there are a few hundred thousand people behind the camera lens. And you as a presenter may momentarily create focus on the screen, but the vast majority of your interaction will be eyes-to-eyes-to eyes. Not screen to floor – to foreheads – to screen – to ceiling tiles –to screen –and then maybe to eyes.
So you’ve got your homework. Watch your weather man or woman tonight. Watch how covertly they use their small touchpad to change the screen. That is precisely how skilled and practiced you need to be. Because good presentations are seamless and your technology will never be as important as the connection you make with your audience.
About the Author:
Jim Endicott is president of Distinction Communication Inc, a Newberg, OR consulting firm specializing in message development, presentation design and delivery skills coaching. For more information about his firm’s services, visit www.distinction-services.com