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Thursday31 July 2014

If their faces are in the soup, it’s time to stop

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One of the occupational hazards of my job is enduring very bad presentations.

I cannot begin to describe the places where my mind has wandered in search of any diversion from the dull drone of a bore that has been given a microphone.

Getting it wrong not only squanders a great opportunity to put your view across but, in the case of those that demonstrate complete disregard for an audience, is downright rude.

Contrary to popular belief, architects are frequently required to speak publicly — for example when presenting to clients, local planning authorities and public consultations. And as you develop a higher profile, broader opportunities will arise. Yet very few take the time to hone their skills.

Here are my five top tips for becoming a good presenter:

  1. Understand your audience. Who are you talking to and what matters to them? Make sure you are relevant.
  2. Research the layout of the presentation space. This will save you from any nasty shocks that may put you off.
  3. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Perform a run-through with the most objective listener you can find. Very few people can talk without notes, but by being prepared, you will have the confidence to lift your head from your prompts and actually look at the audience.
  4. Keep it brief. Leaving your audience wanting more is a blessing, boring them rigid is unforgivable.
  5. Take your cue from the audience — if their faces are in the soup, it’s time to stop.

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