Style Snapshot: The Plank
Being humans, we all react differently to the same situation. Some people love sugary foods like chocolate, ice cream, and cookies while others hate them (having a sweet tooth myself I am wary of these non-sweet lovers!). Some people love sports and strive to watch every one of their favourite team’s games, while others couldn’t care less who wins which title. Public speaking is no different in that everyone approaches it in a unique way; some techniques are super effective, while others are less so. This week I am highlighting another of the 6 presenter styles that I often see when working with my clients. Read about last week’s style, the Tornado, here.
Presentation Style: Plank
Description: The Plank is extremely nervous and tries their best to maintain control by gluing their arms firmly to their sides and never moving an inch. Their body is rigid and tense and their feet remain planted firmly in one place, as if they have on concrete shoes! If they are wearing pants with pockets, their hands are often jammed so far into their pockets that they could risk tearing a hole in the bottoms of them! This is all in an effort to keep their shaky hands out of the audience’s view and to sustain an air of composure. People who are naturally clumsy (as I am) sometimes rely on the Plank posture to ensure they don’t trip over anything or knock something down. The mindset here is that ‘It’s better to not move an inch than to [insert possible mishap here].’ Stretching out the muscles and loosening up the body are helpful preparatory activities for the Plank.
Cons: The Plank can appear Tin Man-like to the audience, moving only their eyes and mouths during the presentation. If a Plank is presenting alone on stage speaking to the audience they are not appealing to the crowd’s visual sense, making them less engaging. Though the other Planks in the audience may not notice the speaker’s nervous behaviour, those who are less rigid in front of a crowd will notice it right away. Because of the tension in their muscles, Planks often feel tired and very sore after a presentation.
Pros: When presenting with visual aids such as a slideshow or PowerPoint, the Plank is not a distraction to the audience. If the projected images or text are meant to be the highlight of the presentation, you can be assured that they will be. The Plank is certainly less distracting than some other presentation styles due to the lack of movement (more on these other styles in the coming weeks).
There it is, The Plank. Are you guilty of Planking? Have you seen someone else present like this? Join the conversation on my Facebook page, or send me a Tweet or an email. Follow my social media to read about the rest of the categories, and if you’d like to work on developing your own presentation skills contact me for a consultation.
And remember: a presentation is simply a large conversation.