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Communication Skills, Report Writing, and Courtroom Testimony for Forensic Analysts

Presenting to Audiences

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Photo of man presenting to an audience
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

The size and diversity of an audience are added considerations for presenters. For some communicators, the larger the audience the more motivated they become and the better they perform. However, for most individuals such audiences are disconcerting because of problems creating a sustained rapport. When a mass of people reaches a certain size, they often seem to blend into an ambiguous whole where their individual identities disappear. The lighting is usually dimmed and then focused on presenters, creating further distance between them and the collective. The sound of one's own voice as well as the associated visual stimuli are dramatically magnified and tend to drown out competing noises. Diverse audiences, whether they are large or of moderate size, pose different challenges due to their ethnic, religious, cultural, language, or other differences between themselves and presenters.

The anonymity experienced by some presenters can be remedied with a change in perception and the use of recommendations from the last section. Audiences have personalities and frequent changes in mood. Presenters need to be in tune with their joint body language and modify the use of voice, movement, and visual material accordingly. One tactic is to pick out distinct individuals from different locations to make sustained eye contact with so that the entire audience feels your presence and attention over time. Using intonations, gestures, and facial expressions commonly applied in more intimate settings may facilitate the creation of positive relationships. Diverse groups have a perceptual and cultural distance from presenters, and their reactions may be difficult to discern. Thus, presenters are instructed to modify their styles and materials to match the needs of the audience in order to improve communication effectiveness.

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