We have all watched presenters and decided if they are good or not, but how are we judged?

Research shows that 55% of communication is conveyed by the body language we use, i.e.; Use of eye contact, gestures and facial expressions. 38% is conveyed in the voice, it's quality, use of tone and inflections. Only 7% is conveyed in the words we use.

This is actually a scary statistic as when planning a presentation all our time and effort go into planning what we are going to say.

To be a great presenter you need to start becoming aware of your body language and what it is saying. Repetitive gestures or pacing while talking could detract from your presentation. Gestures need to be expressive, emphasizing what you are saying but at the same time neutral. A high-pitched shrill voice is very difficult to listen to, as is a flat monotonous voice. We need to ensure we are producing a good resonant sound that can be heard by our audience. Our speech needs to be clear to ensure we are understood. For this we need to exercise the muscular organs of articulation. To create an interesting voice we need variation in the pitch and pace of our presentation. As well as making correct use of pause and emphasis. I have many a time seen a great presentation destroyed by a poor delivery.

South African men in general battle to modulate the voice, while the women generally need to pay special attention to resonance. A resonant voice is a deep rich, low voice produced mainly in the chest, which is pleasing to the ear. Women naturally tend to have high pitched, nasal voices. Improving resonance is not only a necessity for women it is important for all, as people listen better to a resonant voice. A Fortune 500 statistic shows that a lower voice sells better. It is unrealistic for a woman with a tiny feminine voice to expect to effectively communicate at the boardroom table, while competing with men's naturally lower and louder voices.

It is no coincidence that 90% of the world's leaders through history were good orators, or that most company directors give good presentations. They all got there largely aided by their ability to communicate.

The way we communicate also plays a large role when making a good first impression. Again body language, is the dominant factor including, posture, handshake and the way we are dressed. If you want to send out the message of professionalism ensure you have good upright posture, use good eye contact, open body language and have a firm handshake. Make sure your clothing is appropriate to the work situation, and is neat and tidy. Have clean hair, nails and shoes. The voice should be well produced amplifying confidence.

If you feel you are not performing at your best with any of the communication techniques mentioned, The Communication Academy runs a two-day workshop entitled "Confident Communication”: where all these issues and more are addressed. Delia Thompson who holds an ATCl & LTCL form the Trinity College of London in speech training presents the workshop. The course has been presented to several large corporations including: Investec Bank, SAICA (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants), SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority), CSIR, Discovery Health, Eli Lilly and Telkom.

Delia has worked individually with Government officials such as Selby Baqwa, and familiar names like Bad Brad from Big Brother.

You are in charge of your future!