Don’t let technology stifle your message

A friend’s wedding set me thinking about the possibilities and pitfalls associated with communication technology. One of the bridesmaids spoke from notes on her mobile phone, instead of reading from paper.

I’ve seen other people using phones and tablets when presenting. Bravo. We’re saving trees, cutting down on litter, and we look cool using the latest gadgets.

There may even be an anticipation by the audience that the presentation is going be better – because of the technology.

But that buzz quickly evaporates when the speaker picks up the phone or tablet and starts to read from it. Reading to an audience – whether from paper, a phone or tablet – is a major obstacle to holding their attention and delivering a memorable message.

As you peer at the screen, it’s hard to maintain eye contact with the audience… so you can’t build a relationship.

  • Your tone changes as you concentrate on following your notes.
  • You lose vitality and passion.
  • You’re less likely to use emphasis, or pause strategically.

Technology can make reading worse. It’s not so cool if you have to hold the phone to your nose to read the small type on the small screen.

I’m not saying don’t use technology for public speaking. Just use it strategically. The screen of a phone or tablet works better if you rely on it for a few key words, rather than complete sentences. Glance down… see the key word… look up… speak with passion.

Make sure your battery is fully charged and that your device will not auto-lock after a few minutes.

When you settle down to write a speech or build a presentation, use whatever tools will help you connect with the audience. Just remember, the audience is looking forward to hearing you speak to them – not read to them.

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