The Hammock Effect – Tips and Tools for public speaking

The Hammock Effect – Tips and Tools for public speaking

Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.” Dorothy Sarnoff

“Ninety percent of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” Somers White


Making a good presentation relies on many things but one of the most key is to have a proper structure.  You may hear your more confident colleagues urging you not to bother wasting time on preparation – after all, they just write it on the back of an envelope and wing it!  Why shouldn’t you do the same?  Because, I can guarantee that unless they are one of the exceptionally talented few, winging it isn’t a good idea.  Not knowing what comes next is a terrifying feeling in the middle of a presentation – and squinting at a few scribbled notes blurred by a coffee stain is hardly likely to reassure you.


My advice is to create a clear structure with a proper Introduction, Development and Conclusion.  How do you do that?


Think of the length of a presentation as resembling a hammock. There are natural high points of audience concentration at the beginning and the end, just like the high points of the hammock tied to the trees – but the weight of the audience expectations will create a slump in the middle.


The idea is to capitalize on the high levels of interest by finding something great to capture the audience’s attention at the start and which will underline the benefits of listening to you. Then have a memorable closing statement which is full of impact, which will remain ringing in your audience’s ears long after you have finished speaking.


Don’t forget the slump in the middle though! The audience, if left gently swaying there will fall asleep.  What you need to do is to turn the hammock into a bed of nails.  Sounds a little cruel?  Well it isn’t so bad; I simply mean keep prodding gently to help the audience stay with you.  How do you do that?


Ensure you have a logical flow to your content because audiences don’t enjoy struggling to follow meandering thought processes.  Show plenty of visual interest, whether on screen or as props to make it more memorable.  Tell a story, everyone loves a great anecdote.  Above all, keep your voice tone modulated and show enthusiasm for your subject.  Let’s face it – if you’re bored as the presenter, the audience has every right to feel the same!


Action Point: If you would like to speak confidently and comfortably in your business life, or you would like your team to be more effective in briefings and sales presentations, call us on the contact details below for additional information or to arrange a chat with one of the Stratus team



Contact Details:


Sonya O’Sullivan

Director & Principal Consultant

Stratus Associates

West Point

4 Hermitage Road

Hale, Altrincham

WA15 8BN


Phone: 07808 795 165







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