Think of the last speakers’ training meeting you attended, or perhaps organized. As always, prior to the live meeting, draft presentations and key references are supposed to be shipped before the meeting. Attendees are expected to have at least reviewed the materials; however, due to busy schedules, that does not happen very often.

Once that day-and-a-half is over, are these speakers really ready to deliver the information, weave a story, and leave behind the message the company has worked so hard to create? Countless resources go into developing the content from company personnel involving medical, marketing, regulatory, legal, and perhaps other departments. More importantly, will the audience retain the information and change their behaviors? How many hours have gone into ensuring this?

Studies have shown that the effectiveness of spoken communication is based on the following:

• 55% of meaning is in facial expressions and other body language
• 38% of meaning is paralinguistic or the way the words are said (voice quality and tone)
• 7% of meaning is in the content or words

The bottom line is that communication is more often about performance or content delivery than the content itself. We need to rethink how speakers deliver the content, and how little time we spend training them on these skills. Why don’t we include these skills more frequently in speakers’ training?

We have all experienced how the same content can dramatically differ depending on the speaker’s enthusiasm and the level of engagement with the audience; yet, we give little credence to training our speakers on these presentation skills. Research shows over 90% of meaning is derived from the speaker’s content delivery. If greater focus is placed on basic speaking and presentation skills, I am sure we will have betters speakers, more interesting programs, higher attendance, and a change in audience behavior. And after all, isn’t that our ultimate goal?