Think Beyoncé vs. Sade, or Machel Montano vs. David Rudder. One is lights, camera, action. One is calm, soulful, and mesmerising. What they have in common is that they use what works for them.
Similarly, you’ve got to figure out what works for you as a performer. I say performer, because a presentation is a performance.
Here are some tips from our last public workshop that can help you impress your audience the next time you deliver a speech or presentation.
Note: We covered much more than what you’re about to read, so consider this a small taste of our public speaking training. Hopefully, we’ll see you at the next one.
1. Figure out what works for you.
Like Beyoncé and Sade, you’ve got to know and own your style.
People have described my training style as effervescent, funny, quirky, and knowledgeable. I use my personality to make ideas stick. Being a ball of energy works for me, because it doesn’t seem forced.
On the other hand, you might be quiet. Ever listened to someone who has a calm, but authoritative or earnest voice that draws people in? That could be you.
Analyse your style, and how it can help people to gravitate to you. Tweak what needs to be tweaked, and focus on engaging your audience.
2. Structure for influence.
Don’t get caught up in wanting to sound super intelligent. That’s when you end up saying things like “breakfasses” or “parah-digums” (no shade intended). Worse… you might start to bore people.
Audiences judge you on how well you connect with them. Focus on that.
Know why you make a certain point first. Know why you pause. Is it for effect? Do you want to create suspense?
Structure your presentation to get a reaction from your audience. You dominate the stage, when you can get into people’s minds.
3. Remember forgetful Jones.
No one will remember everything you said.
Repeat your main points in different ways at different times.
This way, the person who ended up daydreaming about how much fun they had in Tribe on Carnival Monday and Tuesday will get another chance to hear your pearls of wisdom.
4. Take the time to engage.
Horror of horrors… no one is paying attention to you. What do you do?
- Keep talking?
- Start to stammer, and get more nervous?
- Stop, and ask the audience questions that move them to share their opinion or experiences?
Yes, go with number three.
A presentation is a conversation. It isn’t meant to be one way.
You might have to spend five minutes hyping the audience to get their attention.
Ask people to raise their hand if they relate.
Ask the man in the red shirt, who seems to be the ringleader among his peers, to share his experience.
This starts to draw the audience in. He might have an interesting story that perks up the audience, and gets them invested in your presentation.
And if (and only if) you’re naturally witty or funny, inject some humour to get the audience to lighten up.
5. Know your main message.
As we learnt back in A’ Level days, know your thesis.
Don’t self destruct, if you forget a point.
If you know your presentation’s main message, other thoughts will flow, even if you temporarily blank out. If you know your main point, you can improvise, still stay on-message, and appear confident.
6. Showmanship doesn’t get you respect.
Don’t be a movie-star presenter.
Sure… you can use theatrics. You can use tricks, jokes, and props to wow your audience. But, as Bob Marley says, “You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”
If you don’t share insightful tips that help or motivate people, you’ll lose the respect of those who can see beyond showmanship. They’ll realise you’re an empty vessel.
Even Beyoncé knows that flashy costumes and complicated dance routines alone won’t do the job. She has to deliver stellar singing.
People want value. You must have substance and style.
Presenting isn’t just about designing some PowerPoint or Prezi slides. A presentation is a performance.
Figure out what works for you. Your quiet demeanour just might a strength. Figure out how you can connect with your audience, and how you can increase your impact. This way, people remember you and your message.
Think back to the last time you delivered a presentation.
Did you get it right, or would you have had more impact if you had used these tips?
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