Overcoming communication difficulties in public speaking

How can you overcome communication difficulties in public speaking?

Before you begin your next public speaking engagement you should be aware that no matter how well you communicate there will be some people in your audience who will have challenges in understanding your message.

Did you know that

One in four adults in Ireland have literacy difficulties
 National Audit Literacy Agency (NALA)

Over 113,000 people in Ireland have difficulty in learning, remembering and concentrating
NDA: National Disability Authority

Partially sighted population in Ireland is 160,197  
FSFE – Free Software Foundation Europe

More than 167 languages are being used in Ireland  
National University of Ireland

Over 60% of the online population in Ireland are non-English speakers
 SIGIR: Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval  2007 Workshop

The spending power of people with disabilities in Ireland is €3.3 billion
Disability Rights Commission

Because it takes some people in your audience longer to understand what you are presenting, you may benefit from a few free few hints on how to make your message clearly understood, remembered and acted upon.

What can you do to meet the challenges of communicating?

To reach your full potential as a public speaker there are many skills involved which I address in my workshops and in one to one sessions. However there are a number of general points that should be kept in mind when  speaking publicly.

KISS is the acronym for Keep It Simple Speaker.

It is important then that we communicate clearly when speaking publicly.“Lost in translation” is not the only obstacle to effective communication. The ability of your audience to understand what you are saying is an important factor in getting your message across.

Are they getting the message?

Another important factor  is your ability to read or understand their levels of comprehension as you go along. Be aware of the nods and signs of recognition as you make points. If you are not seeing these then you are not getting through. Go back. rephrase and give practical examples and stay with the point until you get the A-Ha! moment of understanding from many of your audience.

Say it Again?

Patiently, calmly and clearly rephrase, simplify and  reiterate your message until it is understood by the majority of your audience.

Engage your audience in constructing the meaning of your words.

This may be  done by asking them what they already know about the topic, finding common ground and then adding a little new information or more meaning  a little at a time so that the audience are able to construct the meaning of your message as you proceed through your message.

It is essential to stop when they have had enough information.

Even if you have not delivered all of your message, stop if they are tired, overwhelmed or just not getting it. Tell a story, do a practical demonstration to give them time to catch up with you. Then if time permits add a little more but realise it is better that they get a small part of your message than dismiss it all. Front load the presentation with your important message. Flag it as the most important message to your audience. Deliver it simply and slowly. revise it, refer to it and  represent it again as you finish.

Take Aways

People take home three things. the first and last thing you said and whether you made them laugh and have fun.

Parcel your information

Ideally and to present effectively you must parcel your information in snippets that are sequential in order and can stand alone or in sequence.  Some of your audience will arrive late,  leave early and be busy dealing with other issues while listening to you.

 A Variety of Channels

No matter how good you are at communicating  some people take in less information from what they hear and see  than others. For maximum understanding by your audience the information presented needs to be presented through a variety of channels.

Some people are visual learners and like things presented to them visually with colour, shapes and a pattern that is easily followed.

Others are  predominantly auditory, learning and understanding mainly what they hear.

Others like to touch, feel or participate in movements to understand what you are explaining, teaching or demonstrating.

So as you prepare for a public presentation  you might consider the rule of threes which I have posted separately.

I look forward to hearing from you. Please enter your comments below.