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By Bill Kizorek and Scott Finger
Identifying fraudulent activity is just one part of the overall duty of the special investigator. To effectively combat the massive problem of insurance fraud, the professional also must be a communicator — informing not only other insurance company departments, but also the general public. The more society understands that insurance fraud affects everyone, the greater will be the support for claims investigative operations.
Although the majority of those involved in fraud-fighting are expert at probing, it is not so probable that they are also expert in the art of public speaking.
The strategies and techniques of this article will assist the reader to prepare a polished, professional, convincing and, at times, entertaining presentation. Just because the message is a serious one does not mean that conveying that message has to be a somber affair.
The single most important success factor is thorough preparation. Not only should the potential speaker have a complete grasp of his or her subject matter (assumed), but gathering other information should be part of the process. Who is the audience, what are its interests, what is its focus, are audiovisual materials needed and will the proper equipment be available? It is easier to request that an overhead projector be made available for a speech than for the speaker to haul it around himself.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The more thoroughly , the presentation is rehearsed, the less need there is to worry about nervousness. Rehearsal also allows the speaker the time that is demanded for concentrating on effective presentation techniques. Unless protocol dictates otherwise, the speech should be condensed down to key words on a five-inch by seven-inch note card. Twenty to thirty of these words written on a card, with each word symbolizing a section of the speech, will free the speaker’s eyes to roam across the audience.
The speech should be practiced using the aid of the note card. It should be practiced out loud, again and again. It should be practiced on anyone willing to listen before the actual performance. Criticism should be accepted as constructive and advice should be solicited from each practice audience. During the dry runs, it is advisable to stop at any time and go back over the sentence until it can be delivered correctly, inflection and all.
The speaker should start the day with a good night’s sleep under his belt. In addition, it is wise to realize that too much alcohol the night before will slow down the motors of the brain, even for a lunchtime speech on the following day.
A brain loves protein, so morning nourishment is advisable. Presuming that it is a lunchtime speech, a light lunch makes sense. The more food crammed into the stomach, the more blood is diverted to aid in digestion of the food. And this is the blood that should rightfully be going to the brain instead!
The speaker should arrive at the designated location at least 30 minutes in advance. The audiovisual equipment should be checked out at this time — both to assure it is actually there and to assure the items are operational. The microphone should be checked to be sure it is in working order. Adjustments can be made at the same time.
If the presentation calls for the dimming of the lights, it’s necessary to ascertain that the lights can be dimmed. Polished speakers familiarize themselves with dimming the lights because they know that in at least 35 percent of the cases, the assigned light-dimmer is nowhere to be found.
Anything that happens at the last minute may interrupt concentration and throw the speaker off balance at the beginning of the speech. Therefore, he is wise to avoid racing around and indulging in any hectic activity on the morning of the speech.
Everything mentioned thus far can easily be customized to the needs of the individual speaker, preferably in the form of a checklist. Multiple copies can then be made and carried to individual speeches.
Just Before the Speech
This is the time to build the energy level. Experienced speakers use this time to walk around and introduce themselves to members of the audience. This allows the speaker to find out who the people in the audience are.. While the speaker may already know why they are at the speech, he will be able to pick up some sense of their group values. This knowledge may prove to be critical during the course of the speech itself. This is the audience that will soon be expecting stimulation, education and problem solving. And also, the speaker may want to move the audience to some type of action.
The speaker should take the time necessary to write his own introduction and give it to the person who will be the introducer. It should be short and, unless absolutely neces sary, should not be a lifetime chronology. The general rule of thumb dictates that the shorter the introduction is, the better. After all, it’s the speaker the audience came to hear, not the introducer.
As the speaker takes the podium or stands before the crowd, he should pause, smile and be natural. If the lead-off is a humorous anecdote, that story should relate to the speech. The more appropriate the story, the more the audience will feel that the speaker is there to address the member’s specific needs and not to play the comedian.
He should look at the audience prior to speaking and open the speech with a flawless (because it’s been thoroughly practiced) entry.
The greatest likelihood of nervousness will be during the first minutes of the presentation. But once the audience acknowledges acceptance, especially with its laughter, the speaker becomes empowered and energized.
What not to do:
*Boast, promote or advertise in the opening.
*Use trite phrases. “I’m happy to be here,” or “Thanks for inviting me.”
What to do:
*Get on with the presentation and dispense with the small talk.
The Body of the Talk
With only a small note card and limited words, eye contact will be one of the easier techniques. As the speech continues, other successful procedures should be kept in mind that will ensure acceptance as a polished speaker.
Do not punctuate sentences with uhh, ah and uhm. Scan the audience, slowly, side-to-side.
Repeat key phrases — up to three times is okay. Yes: Voice inflections. No: Monotone monotony. Praise the audience.
As the speaker proceeds, he should do so logically and in an organized manner. One trick to getting organized for part of the speech is to use small Post-itmi notes all over sheets of paper, moving the ideas around until they make sense. (Warning! Post-it notes get unstuck and fall off — so they should never be relied upon at the podium!)
Vulgar language or raunchy stories, even when they seem appropriate, can kill a good speech and should he avoided. Just one offended audience member can create problems for the host and bad publicity for the investigative cause.
Self promotion — NO! A speaker who brags about himself, his company or his organization is unacceptable. More to the point, it turns off audiences and it is in bad taste.
The body of the speech and the message it conveys should be sufficient to convince an audience that the cause is worthwhile. They do not have to be told. Rambling, fidgeting and derisive talking about other people or organizations will detract from an otherwise good delivery.
Visual aids can significantly increase the effectiveness of a presentation. Conversely, misuse of them can distract, confuse and bore the audience. Visual aids referred to should not be too complex. Big words, few words and matching (the visuals) words are all good things. But it’s a good idea to reexamine the effectiveness of visual aids if the speaker looks out among the audience and sees that the members are reading newspapers, sleeping or talking to one another.
Moving the Audience to Action
In the final analysis, the speaker is present because he has a message for the audience, hopefully one that the audience wants to hear. As the members of the audience walk out of the speech, many of them should be moved to act on the delivered message.
If the presentation was mediocre, the crowd may leave lethargic. However, if the speaker comes across as poised, compelling, persuasive, inspirational, candid, convincing, passionate and caring, the audience will be energized and they will be ready to carry on the mission.
Bill Kizorek has. written seven books on surveillance, claims, testifying and risk management. A world-renowned speaker, he has lectured on five continents and has traveled to over 100 countries. He is the president of InPhoto Surveillance, Naperville, Illinois.
Scott Finger is the National Account Manager of InPhoto Surveillance. He is also a veteran investigator and surveillance expert.
@1995 John Cooke Fraud Report