The 2018 State of Attention [Infographic] by Pezi, shows that 95% of business professionals say they multitask during meetings. Over 4 in 5 business professionals shifted their focus away from the speaker in the most recent presentation they watched. Presentations are what make or break events. How do you keep your learners hooked to what you’re saying?
To be able to engage the participants and to get your point across in the most impactful way possible are the ultimate goals of every virtual presenter, trainer or facilitator worth his salt. Unlike in-person or face-to-face presentations where we can employ eye to eye contact, facial expressions, hand gestures or body movements to effectively communicate our ideas, we are limited to visual aids and our verbal communication skills. This is exactly why during virtual presentations, we need to be mindful of our tone of voice and most importantly, the type of language we use.
Formal vs. Informal Language
We apply formal and informal language in different situations. The tone of formal language is less personal, rigid, and systematic. Whereas, informal language is casual and more personal. In doing my webinars, I prefer the usage of informal language because it makes it easier for the participants to relate and engage with me on the topics I’m presenting. Can you imagine how awkward or difficult it would be to establish rapport with your audience or show your personality to them when you speak too formally?
Why does casual, informal language work in webinars? Here are my thoughts.
It sparks conversations
As Leech and Svartvik (2002) put it, “informal language (also called colloquial) is the language of ordinary conversation.” The reasons why I advocate the use of interactive stories and thought-provoking questions are the same reasons I encourage keeping the language casual during the virtual presentation – to spark conversations and to initiate virtual engagement through experience sharing. Master virtual trainers and presenters know how to make their audience feel as if they are just having a friendly conversation with friends but at the same time are able to achieve the learning objectives of the session.
It facilitates faster exchange of ideas
Maintaining a casual webinar environment where informal language is encouraged facilitates a faster exchange of ideas. Simplify ideas by using keywords. Bring context by sharing everyday real-life stories. Also, narrate relatable anecdotes. People respond better when you “speak in their language.” Formal terminologies and highfalutin words may make you sound clever but will they help in sending your intended message across? Most probably not. It should always be about effectively communicating content and bringing context to your audience. Not them, spending unnecessary time and effort on the correctness of their language.
A master virtual trainer or presenter has to be agile, flexible and relatable. Never mind the small imperfections or the informality in language because most of the time, this informality is the appropriate solution to avoid your audience being “lost in translation.” But of course, too much of anything can have its downside. Therefore, find the right balance between keeping it casual and still having a strong virtual presence so you don’t lose control of your session. Let me know what you think. Share your insights and comments below.
References[Infographic] The 2018 State of Attention