Monday, August 23, 2010

The impact of visuals

Remember sitting in that overheated classroom in high school or college listening─or not─to a seemingly endless lecture? Probably not, since your mind had gone numb. Why did so many of us need to write down every single word we heard? Because at least 65%of us are visual learners.

Consider the result of this study conducted at Harvard: people comprehend about 7% of information delivered verbally and 87% when delivered both verbally and visually.

A study at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that presenters using visual aids:
- conduct meetings in 28% less time
- increase audience retention by up to five times
- get proposals approved twice as often

Further studies found that when visuals are used group consensus occurs 21% more often and the time required to present a concept can be reduced up to 40%.

The message is clear: use handouts, write on the board or paper, demonstrate, show a quick clip─get visual!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Practice diaphragm breathing to improve your voice and remain calm

Did you know─many of us breathe backward? If I asked a group to take a deep breath, many people would quickly fill their upper chest with air. This isn't enough to support a strong voice or help calm us. In fact, it just makes us more tense. Try diaphragm breathing instead:

• Sit quietly—with both feet on the floor if in a chair, perhaps legs crossed if on the floor

• Relax hands—holding nothing. Rest them on your knees or in your lap.

• Initially for practice, place one palm flat on the front of your waist between the bottom of your ribcage and your abdomen. Place your other hand on your breastbone.

• Close your eyes.

• Breathe in through your nose with your mouth closed.

• Feel your rib cage expand as your shoulders remain still (that’s your diaphragm expanding).

• Exhale sloooooooowly through your slightly open mouth—pulling your diaphragm toward your spine.

• Now try inhaling to a count of 3. Hold for 1 count. Exhale to a count of 3. Hold for 1 count.

• Breathe rhythmically. Eventually expand the count and focus on the exhale being even longer.

Practice diaphragm breathing and you'll find your voice will grow stronger. An added bonus? You'll feel like you've just had a short nap!