Creating your visual aids

4 Speaking Essentials to Inform an Audience: Road Signs (Part 2 of 4)

Here’s the second of four posts by Ian Griffin. If you missed the first, he’s been discussing the different approaches we can take to share information with our audiences. Click here to read from the beginning.

As I outlined in the first part of this series, there are four main ways of speaking to inform. I reviewed the least attractive option: delivering little information in an unclear manner.  Let’s move on to consider the benefits of a presentation that communicates minimal information, but in a clear manner. These use presentation Road Signs.

road sign 1Even very long speeches can be broken down into concise nuggets of information, delivered in a manner that is quickly and easily understood. Road signs are designed to communicate important information instantaneously. When you are whizzing by at 60 mph, universally recognized icons are easily understood.

Intonation, cadence and gestures are your road signs to an audience. They improve people’s ability to follow what you are saying. Done right, they reinforce your message. Done wrong, like an overly verbose sign on the highway, they slow things down or even confuse people.

road sign 2Presentations that use PowerPoint convey information that supplements the spoken word. But the slides must be crisp and clear. The fewer words you display the better. Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte demonstrate the best way to display information visually. Done right, slides can help inform the audience. Done wrong, too much information on the screen will distract people from hearing your message. What you are saying will be ignored while they read the slide. If you have a wordy slide, stay silent while the audience reads it.

Click here to read part 3 of 4.

A veteran speechwriter and executive communications specialist, Ian Griffin helps CEOs and senior managers develop strategic messaging and content for presentations to audiences worldwide. He is Past-President of the Northern California Chapter of the National Speakers Association and an active member of Toastmasters.  Ian has spent more than 20 years working with mainstream Silicon Valley companies such as Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems.  His Professionally Speaking blog is found at



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  1. Pingback: 4 Speaking Essentials to Inform an Audience: Don’t be a ‘Foreign Policeman’

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