By Máire Garvey.
Technology has changed, and will continue to change, the face of the workplace. More and more people freelance, consult, or work zero contract hours. This means that we will increasingly have to compete for what work is going, and this will require a more dynamic presentation of ourselves and our skills. Success will often depend on how well we present ourselves, whether at a traditional interview, a Skype presentation or a webinar. As more businesses go online, video presentations and podcasts are becoming a crucial part of the marketing mix.
We already see colleges offering more ‘hybrid’ courses – courses that have both an online and a face-to-face element. Although at first glance, online teaching or presenting may seem limited, it offers key advantages over face-to-face speaking. Talks can be delivered in real-time or can be recorded. Real-time presentations can allow questions and comments, and can be as fully interactive as talking in an auditorium. Recorded presentations can provide greater scheduling flexibility, as people don’t need to be online at the same time.
Although the initial prototype of Google Glass has been discontinued, work continues on developing wearable technology. Given that many of the futuristic gadgets and communication devices seen on shows like Star Trek are now a reality, wearable technology for everybody is definitely in our future. The possibilities for public speaking are virtually unlimited. The prototype already allowed for information to be uploaded, so it was possible to give a speech without the need for notes or a separate autocue. One day it will be possible to link an app with wearable technology that will allow audience – on or off-line – to send questions to the Glass screen, so that they can be taken in any order the speaker prefers. The same can be done with audience feedback. And finally – as with the Star Trek Holodeck – speech phobics will be able to create a virtually real audience, starting with one person, and adding more as they get used to speaking in public. Eventually they will be able to speak to a crowd of hundreds before ever setting foot on a real stage.
So where does that leave the human connection? More important than ever. It’s easy to forget when we’re talking to a blue dot on our laptop, or into our smartphones, that there is a person on the other end. And whether it’s a dozen or hundreds or thousands of people watching our vlog, webinar, online speech, we are only ever talking to one person at any one time (which is who we should be talking to even in a live auditorium). People ‘buy’ people. If somebody can buy the exact same thing at the exact same price with the exact same result from two different people, which one will they choose? The person they connect with. And how do they connect with you if you are not physically present to them?
By making sure that you apply the following four ideas.
- Be authentic
Yes, ‘authentic’ is a current buzzword. But it’s crucial to good communication and relationships. And its presence, or lack, is just as clear to an audience whether you’re online or offline. Furthermore, people do not need to know you personally to know if you’re being authentic. To be authentic, you need to be true to yourself AND your message, and to be fully present to your audience.
- Be energised
Have you ever seen a speaker live, and then watched them online? Have you wondered at the fact that the don’t seem as engaging or as good as when you saw them live? Your audience will have less to go on if they’re watching you on their laptop – they can’t experience a handshake or eye contact with you. So you will need to use clear, honest messaging, and you will also need to work on your voice to move your audience beyond the visual gap.
- Be adaptive
Technology lets us down – frequently. It is also constantly changing and improving. We need to remain adaptable to the constant changes and improvement, but we also need to be able to improvise when it lets us down. I recently saw a presenter whose presentation relied entirely on his Powerpoint Presentation. It looked as if the slide projector was not going to co-operate. It did eventually, but if it hadn’t, he would not have been able to deliver his presentation. Not a good idea.
- Be connected
Always remember that you are talking to people, or a person, whether you’re in a real auditorium or talking to the dot on your laptop. Remember to engage with them, and to be passionate about what you’re talking about. Look them in the eye. Invite them in.