Our local Toastmasters Club tried something a little different yesterday.  We called a special, voluntary meeting to watch a video of a presenter (about 20 minutes) and then spent the rest of an hour discussing what worked and what didn’t for that speaker.  The speaker we chose for this particular session was a well-known speaker and writer of international fame, who gets accoldates for both, although more for his content than his presentation.The exercise was well received (we plan to do this regularly).  Most folks admitted they didn’t spend much, if any, time watching other speakers.  With the abundance of videos on the internet, this is a shame.  It’s a great exercise to just hone a critical eye and try to identify what works for presenters.  In this particular case, we all found lots of mechanical issues to complain about — horrific eye contact, repetitive gestures with little or no purpose, and an annoying tendency to give excuses about how ill-prepared he was — but in almost everyone’s eyes, the speaker was entertaining and the basic message wasn’t hard to grasp.  Ultimately, that’s the point of a message.  However, this speaker could watch his own video and almost immediately reap benefits of awareness of some things that really wouldn’t be hard to fix, and he would be known as not only entertaining, but effective and compelling as well.

Use video — of yourself and others — to hone your communication skills.

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