Delivery, Delivery, Delivery

Smile -You’re human

I’ve had the good fortune this week to work on two unique projects. The first was training a group of International students from JAMK University, Finland at San Jose State University. The second was providing presentational coaching to NetApp employees as they prepare for their annual “Insight” Conference.

The key take-away from both of these uniquely distinct sessions is the importance of delivery. In the classroom I tell my students, “It doesn’t matter how important your content is if you don’t deliver it in an engaging manner.” I have listened to approx. thirty presentations in the last three days (half of which were approx. 50 minutes in length). About 50% of these were given by engineers who could have been speaking Finnish (for all I care) about “an integrated solution that enables storage, delivery, and management of network data” ( If you know me, you know that I know nothing about this topic. That said, even the most “Greek” content can be engaging to an audience- if the presenter is dynamic. The other fifteen presentations were given by MBA students speaking about their first visit to California, more specifically the Bay Area. About half of these speeches were spoken in Finnish.

Here are some examples of attention factors I saw this week that build rapport and “relatability” with an audience, no matter the subject or language: a warm and inviting tone of voice, (tasteful and appropriate) humor, global language (avoid slang and jargon), comparisons, questions, organizational skills, Q&A, purposeful movement, posture, and eye contact. The last three are non-verbal and focus on a speaker’s body language. Keep in mind that a smile from a speaker to a listener (and vice verse) is translated as a sincere expression, no matter the continent, language, or content being discussed.

If I’m to be honest, I will not claim that I learned much about storage space or picked up any Finnish pleasantries this week. I will attest however that we are all human no matter our expertise, culture, personality, or occupation. Therefore, when we address each other, I encourage you to remember your goal should be to communicate to connect with others so they will want to listen.

Here is an example of someone who does not do any of these things