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Communication matters. What are YOU saying?

Communication skills, Delivery

The Dark Side of presentation skills

Good vs. evil is a story line that is a hit regardless of the format. Garr Reynolds posted a comparison of the presentation styles of Darth Vader vs. Yoda . I’m seeing references to it in several blogs I read, for instance, Chris Brogan. It’s always fun to compare anything (we like winners and losers, it would seem), and this one is especially nice because it’s a cultural icon of the Internet generation and parlays the good vs. evil angle. But let’s take a look at where each of them excels and can improve in the communications arena.Darth Vader:

  • First impression is imposing and he doesn’t change that impression by asking for audience feedback
  • He cuts off (or chokes) people who have questions — doesn’t accomodate interruptions well
  • Eye contact is atrocious — really needs to work on that
  • Voice inflection needs a lot of work, and he has a distracting breathing problem
  • Gestures do get your attention, but for the rest of the audience he isn’t choking it must really cause them anxiety
  • Movement is very fluid, and posture is rock solid
  • Doesn’t dress with distracting colors or patterns
  • Needs to work on his facial expressions
  • Doesn’t use any non-words, and his rate is very measured
  • Tends to not use very many analogies or hooks — just states the boring facts (“You should not have come back”)

And Yoda:

  • First impression is not imposing, but also has little to impress the audience with
  • Facial expressions are out-of-this-world
  • Personal appearance is a bit distracting — he could use a haircut, for instance, and he doesn’t dress like his audience
  • Posture is good, but he doesn’t move enough and he tends to lose his speech when he does
  • Allows his audience to interject and tends to let them discover nuggets for themself
  • Grammar is really bad — he should enroll in some remedial English classes at his local community college
  • Tends to rely on simple gestures, and his hands are always holding the whoopum stick, which is extraneous to his message
  • Voice is not always strong, and he sometimes tails off towards the end of a sentence

But despite their non-perfect skills, they excel in one area — reaching audiences with the message. Yahoo! reports that the movies have grossed over $5B and the toys and franchises have cleared another $9B, and Star Wars’ films hold three of the top ten grossing films of all time. Sometimes, it isn’t about communication skill. Oh wait, that means you wouldn’t need communications consultants or training?! In that case, just imagine how successful these gents could have been had they actually polished those communication skills!

An effective message can transcend skill alone. Content + delivery = message

1 Comment to “The Dark Side of presentation skills”

  1. I find Vader’s use of the laser-pointer more than a little distracting. His wild hand gestures while the thing is switched on couild result in damage to his audience’s eyes!