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THE Presentations Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan

THE Presentations Japan Series is powered by with great content from the accumulated wisdom of 100 plus years of Dale Carnegie Training. The show is hosted in Tokyo by Dr. Greg Story, President of Dale Carnegie Training Japan and is for those highly motivated students of presentations, who want to be the best in their business field.
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THE Presentations Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan
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Now displaying: Page 1
May 13, 2024

Almost 100% of presentations that I see in Japan are one directional.  The audience sits there passively and the speaker presents to them.  There is no interaction with the audience.  I was watching an interview with Clint Eastwood in his approach as a movie director.  He was talking about his famous Western “The Unforgiven” and talking about how he shot some key scenes, such that the faces of the actors were in the shadows and not fully revealed.  I can’t remember exactly how he expressed it, but he said you don’t have to show the whole face with full lighting, because the audience is intelligent. They can fill in the gaps.  I thought that was a good metaphor for presenting.

As the presenter we don’t have to show everything in full lighting from our side.  We can create some gaps and allow the audience to fill in the blanks themselves from their imaginations and their viewpoint.  We do this to some extent already when we use rhetorical questions.  These are questions which we pose to the audience but we are not actually asking them for an answer – we provide that after a suitable hanging pause. 

What about if we actually make it a real question and source the answer from the audience?  Now we cannot be doing this every five minutes, as that will be massive overkill, but we can drop some questions into our talk. We might plan to use these questions to overcome flagging energy and declining interest from the audience.  This is why you never want to be lowering the lights when you are presenting.  You want to be able to study the faces of the people arrayed in front of you for any signs of distraction, boredom, or tiredness.

When I did my TED talk, the audience was in complete darkness because all the lights were blazoning away hitting me up on stage and making it impossible to read any reactions.  It was very unnerving, especially when you are used to being able to study the audience reactions to what you are saying.

Now when we ask a question to the audience here they are confused.  Firstly, they are not trained for this and they are not sure if this is a rhetorical question, which we will answer or whether they actually have to answer. 

The next line of confusion is who amongst the audience should answer this question.  In Japan, no one gets any prizes in life for going first, so it almost guarantees that everyone will be holding themselves back. 

The third line of confusion is fear.  They worry if they get the answer wrong, they will look like a fool in front of everyone.  They also fear that someone else will come up with a much more intelligent answer than theirs and they will look stupid.

So casting a question before an audience here is bound to get no immediate answer.  We have to help them by setting it up.  Just blasting forth with a question is a bit shocking, as this is not how things are normally done.  We need to say something like, “In a moment, I am going to pose a question, because I am very interested to get your experiences and ideas on the issue”.  Now we have fired off a warning shot, so that when the question is unloaded, no one is surprised.

We help them even further by using our eye contact and gestures to indicate to an individual or a group of individuals that we want to hear their answer.  By holding out our hand gesture palm up, it is very unthreatening.  If we used a pointed finger instead, that is very aggressive and will drive a shudder of fear into an audience with its power.

We simultaneously use our eye contact and look at a member of the audience we are indicating to, thus requiring an answer.  It is always good to pick those who were seated on the same table as you, if it were a luncheon or breakfast event, or someone you were chatting with at the start, as you will have established some rapport.  Depending on the relationship, we can call out their name as we ask the question, “So Suzuki san what has been your experience with….”. 

We should immediately thank them for contributing and start applauding and inviting the rest of the audience to join us in recognising them.  We might even say, “let’s thank Suzuki san for sharing her experience and let’s also recognize her professionalism to volunteer her answer”.  This opens up the floor now to call on other people.  We don’t do too many of these at the same time.

It can become a distraction. It can also suck up a lot of time.  Not everyone is able to be succinct and get to the point.  You may also inadvertently discover some people who have a lot of pent up need to talk and they will hijack your presentation.  Now you are on the back foot trying to regain control of proceedings, and that is not a good look for the presenter.

At the very end wrap up of your talk you can again recognise those who contributed their ideas and get everyone to applaud and thank them.  They leave feeling a mile high and the rest of the audience feels you did the right thing by the volunteers.  It ties a nice bow on the presentation and ends it elegantly.

 

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