Chapter 6: Communication Techniques for Fisheries Scientists
Scott A. Bonar and Michael E. Fraidenburg
The lone figure shuffled to the podium in the dark and crowded auditorium. He silently reached into the breast pocket of his coat for some handwritten notes, snapped on the podium light, and placed the notes in front of him. The first slide, a boring, two-color affair crowded with text, was indecipherable to anyone sitting farther than the second row. The next slide was more of the same. He marched on and on through his slides and droned and droned in a hollow monotone reading from his notes, never lifting his head. The audience found paying attention increasingly difficult. That his head stayed down was probably good, because he did not see what happened next.
Halfway through the talk there was a soft “pop” as the projector bulb blew and the screen went dark. Behind the security of his notes and bathed in the soft glow of the podium light the speaker never noticed. The audience kept their collective mouth shut as he continued to drone, his voice moving forward alone. Except for one or two titters most of the group sat in shocked silence. Then suddenly he finished. He lifted his head. There was a smattering of clapping. He left the podium as unobtrusively as he came. Nobody in the audience could quite remember what his talk was about. Because of his poor performance he wasted hours of his time preparing the talk and missed the opportunity to inform or influence the audience.
All of us have seen more of these poor presentations than we care to admit. Each time we promise ourselves to practice our talks and work hard to keep the audience engaged. As a professor, I (S. A. Bonar) do everything I can to help my students approach the podium thoroughly prepared. As a consultant, I (M. E. Fraidenburg) always present to a client after doing an audience analysis to ensure I meet the needs of the audience.
If you are reading this book, you are probably preparing for an exciting and exacting career in fisheries management. You will get to work on interesting, relevant issues and hopefully work in appealing locations. You will have the satisfaction of making the lives of future generations better by protecting our environment today. Do not miss your opportunity to have an effect and make substantive contributions because of poor communication skills.