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Painless Presentations: The Proven, Stress-Free Way to Successful Public Speaking by Lenny Laskowski

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Chapter 4

Use of Visual Aids

When you prepare a presentation, you need to keep in mind how much information the audience can actually absorb through their senses. The amount of information an audience can retain will depend on the verbal aspect, the tone used, and the nonverbal aspect of your presentation.

In the 1960s, UCLA professor Dr. Albert Mehrabian conducted a series of experiments with college students. He wanted to test the power of body language, such as facial expressions, and how it compares to the words used in communicating the speaker’s attitude and feelings when there is an inconsistency between the verbal and nonverbal clues.

In the first series of experiments, only one recorded word was spoken to the students to communicate whether the speaker liked, disliked, or was neutral toward the listener. The experimental subjects listened to a total of nine such words. Three words, honey, dear, and thanks, were used to indicate the speaker liked the listener. Three other words, brute, don’t, and terrible, were used to denote that the speaker disliked the listener. Finally the words maybe, really, and oh were supposed to represent a neutral attitude. The speakers were instructed to vary their tone of voice three times while speaking each of these words. One time, the speaker’s tone of voice was to reflect disliking, another time liking, and still another time neutrality. The statistical results showed that tone of voice was far more important in influencing the subjects’ ...

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