Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weak Presentations: Poor Use of the Eyes When Emphasizing Something

One of the pointers under my “Uncommon Tips for Highly Effective Presentations,” (click here and then read the second bullet), which has been on my website for several years, urges presenters to beware of what I call “misplaced eye emphasis.”

The 19-second video clip below--excerpted from "NBC Nightly News" last week--is an example of what I mean. While making the headline grabbing announcement that Hispanics now account for more than half of the total growth in the U.S. population, Census Bureau spokesperson Nicholas Jones utters the following words in the second half of the featured sentence: “…and people of Hispanic origin now clearly represent the second largest group in the country.” Hence the following question for you: Which is the most significant part of his utterance?

Clearly, it's the words “the second largest group in the country.” Yet, the spokesman is looking at his notes when uttering those words; he was looking at the audience when saying the preceding words (“People of Hispanic origin”) which needed no emphasis since that entire presentation was about Hispanics! Note that if Jones had been looking at the audience while saying the key words, he could have used not only his eyes but other facial gestures for added emphasis.

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