Strategies for improving your impact on your audience by delivering powerful presentations
Of all the unproven collective ideas about Public Speaking, none is more commonly accepted than the belief that speaking in public causes death by embarrassment. Nothing can be further from the truth! It’s a myth. No coroner has ever been called upon to examine an embarrassed corpse at a lectern. Most people know intellectually that they won’t really die if they speak in front of a group, yet this irrational fear persists.
Here are 9 other myths that, if believed, can cripple the effectiveness of your public speaking style. Dismissing these myths will enable you to have a greater impact on your audience by delivering a more memorable, powerful presentation.
2. Introductions aren’t important.
Introductions are too critical to leave to chance. They prepare the audience for your message. Write your own introduction, and be sure the person who is introducing you pronounces your name correctly.
3. Everyone wants to hear what you have to say.
You know your message is important, but not everyone in your audience is there by choice. Some are there to fulfill an assignment. Many would rather be somewhere else. You need to give them a reason to stay and hear what you have to say.
4. You don’t have to prepare if you’ve given the speech before.
No presentation is ever the same. Each audience is different. Review your notes, practice and refine your information. Over confidence can lead to a sloppy delivery.
5. They’ll listen if you are an expert or their boss.
Probably they will…initially. But unless your style is interesting and your information meaningful, their attention will begin to drift within the first 15 minutes of your talk.
6. A commanding speaker uses the lectern.
You’ll have better rapport and interaction with the audience if there is nothing between them and you. The lectern can be a barrier. It causes you to rely on notes and blocks your gestures. Step out and connect!
7. Your attire should match the occasion.
The speaker should always be dressed a bit more formally than the audience. The first impression is generally a visual one.
8. The facility is prepared to accommodate your equipment.
Don’t assume anything, and don’t leave anything to chance. Be prepared. Ask the staff. Check the equipment before you use it. Bring your own things and have back up discs, batteries, bulbs, electric cords, etc. Be prepared for the unexpected.
9. You don’t have to prepare if your presentation lasts less than 10 minutes.
The shorter the presentation the more preparation is needed. You don’t have the luxury of time with a short speech. Your message needs to be succinct, precise and clear.
10. You’ll be nervous forever.
Nervousness usually goes away within the first few minutes of your presentation. This is especially true if you know your material and you are prepared. Perfect practice makes perfect. Things really do get easier!
Strategies for delivering bad news during tough times with good presentations
Whistle while you work! The economy maybe down, but you don’t need to be! If the struggling economy has resulted in the need to deliver some bad news, you will need to communicate with clarity and integrity. Keep in mind that tough economic conditions can be difficult for some companies and people. Regardless of the news, people may be looking for leadership. Your job is to deliver the news. A clear message and presentation, delivered with optimistic leadership, will be helpful and appreciated by your customers, employees and vendors.
Here are some ideas on battling bad times with good presentations…
Delivering bad news
Everyone knows the economy is weak. If you have been impacted, acknowledge the pain, but don’t dwell on it. Instead, focus on the strategy for moving forward. If economic conditions affect your firm and employee lay offs are on the horizon, keep the channels of communication open.
Understand that employees will be concerned about their future. Your job is to keep everyone focused on delivering service or products to your customers. They need to trust that you will be fair and honest with them. A well-thought plan for communicating and presenting information is critical.
Boosting sales in tough times
Never stop selling!!! Even during good times, it’s critical to keep projecting a good company image through marketing and web initiatives. Quality PowerPoint presentations with a clear message and strategy can be a big help. Show people how your products/services can help them today. Show how others are succeeding…or how the competition is doing it. Don’t dwell on the negative; get out there with a dynamic presentation and message.
Inspiring your team
Tough times don’t last… tough people do. You need to be up front with your team and let them know how things stand. Have a strategy and show leadership to weather the storm. Position your team for success and share inspirational messages about the future. Presentations with motivational quotes or dynamic images can rally your team, creating a spirit of unity and focus.
In short, presenting during tough times is a balance of leadership and inspiration. Want some fuel? Pick up a few motivational quote books…visit some inspirational websites…listen to a visionary like Wayne Dyer or Oprah Winfrey to get charged…or speak with an optimistic friend or spiritual leader to be infused with inspiration. Your words can help put the “spin on dim,” turning a dark situation into a bright opportunity.
Will Flower is former Director of Communications at Republic Services, a national waste management firm based in Phoenix, Arizona.
Seven proven tips to help you overcome nervousness and become a better speaker.
Being a powerful communicator has a tremendous transfer value to everything we do. As a presentation coach for 20 years, I have witnessed transformations going far beyond improved presentation skills, including increased self-esteem, greater self-confidence and an increased desire to tackle other challenges. I have felt the debilitating fear of public speaking, and I also know what it is like to bask in the applause. Here are seven proven tips to help you control your presentation jitters and make those annoying butterflies fly in formation…
It’s Good to be Nervous
Every speaker I know gets nervous before speaking. Being nervous means you care about giving a good presentation. Your nervousness produces adrenaline which helps you think faster, speak more fluently, and add the needed enthusiasm to convey your message.
Before and even during your presentation, take a few deep breaths. As you inhale, say to yourself, “I am” and as you exhale, “relaxed.” Just before your presentation, leave the meeting room and go for a walk. Take some deep breaths and give yourself a pep talk.
Involve Your Audience
Ask listeners questions or have them participate in an activity. Keeping your audience actively involved will hold their attention, increase their retention, and reduce your nervousness as your presentation becomes more of a dialogue than a monologue.
Know Your Subject
You must “earn the right” to talk about your subject. Become an authority on your topic and know more than most or all of the people in your audience. The more you know, the more confident you will be.
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
The fear of public speaking often stems from a fear of imperfection. Accept the fact that no one ever gets it perfect and neither will you. You do not have to become Super Speaker, never saying “er” or “uh,” and never losing your train of thought. Be yourself—your audience will appreciate it.
Focus on your Audience and your Message
What you have to say is important! Your audience needs to hear your message. Focus on that, rather than on your nervousness. You can do this!
Practice Out Loud
Question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Answer: Practice! The best way to reduce your anxiety is to rehearse until you feel comfortable. Practicing by yourself is important, but I urge you to also practice in front of a friend, colleague or coach who will give you honest and constructive feedback.
Reprinted with permission from Simply Speaking, Inc.®
1-888-773-2512 or 404-518-7777 David Greenberg’s Simply Speaking, Inc.® All rights reserved
Tips for getting back to basics and delivering a powerful presentation through simplicity and focus.
According to Jerry Weissman in his book, “Presenting to Win,” there are over 30 million PowerPoint presentations given every day. Unfortunately, these presentations are not captivating or memorable. Thus, a lack of presentation training in America is creating a business culture that abuses presentation software and the art of public speaking. Let’s get back to the basics and adopt something I like to call the BRAVO formula.
“B” is for Bold
Boldness is about taking ownership. It’s about being courageous. You need to take control and own your content. No faking is allowed. The harsh reality is that faking it will not work in the public speaking arena. Audiences are far more perceptive than you think. Here are a few tips to help make sure you don’t come across as a faker:
It sounds straightforward, but it is harder than it sounds. By taking a strong initial stance, it shows that 1) you are credible, 2) you are passionate, and 3) you have a game plan. Be creative with your approach, and stay away from humor. It can get you in trouble.
Most public speaking amateurs make the big mistake of memorizing their presentations. This can be deadly, especially when questions arise during the middle of your presentation. Memorization kills spontaneity and your conversational ability. Stay away from it.
Become an expert
Creating credibility is the most important component of presentations. If you can’t create trust, don’t even bother walking on stage. So how do you build trust? Simple. Provide evidence. Show statistics, graphs, charts – anything to help solidify that you know what you are discussing. Proceed with caution though – there is a gray line between too much and too little information.
Faking it may work in other areas of life, but it doesn’t work in presentations. Don’t be a faker. Take ownership and be bold.
“R” is for Ready
In the movie Anchorman , Will Ferrell plays the obnoxious, self-centered, but surprisingly loveable anchorman named Ron Burgundy. There is a great scene where Ron is attempting to impress Veronica Corningstone (played by Christina Applegate), his future co-anchor. The conversation begins with Ron asking: “Do you know who I am?” Veronica replies, “No, I can’t say that I do.” Taken aback by her response, Ron says, “I don’t know how to put this…but I’m kind of a big deal.”
This short scene reminds me of the circumstance that most executives and business professionals get trapped into when preparing for a presentation. They feel that their 20+ years of business experience or countless hours of executive coaching implies that they need no prep time before presenting.
Unfortunately, the reality of public speaking is that preparation is a critical piece of any great presentation. It’s amazing how an affective presentation can deliver more results than an entire year slaving behind the desk. Presenters need to take prep work seriously. Prepare and then prepare some more. It may make the difference between no sale and a very large bonus.
The interesting dynamic with presentations is that everyone starts from a clean slate. Every word and every action needs to be carefully thought out. There is no “winging” it. You may be “kind of a big deal,” but that won’t save you when it is your time to take the stage.
“A” is for Appreciation
Time is money. If money is not exchanged, than some other valued item needs to be absorbed. Abraham Lincoln did not have PowerPoint when giving the Gettysburg Address, but he still managed to inspire, motivate and change the world. People want monumental experiences. They want to make sure that their time is exchanged with something meaningful. Give them value and you’ll get love in return.
The adage that people are naturally good is true. People at their core are kind and warm-hearted creatures. Generally, most people in your audience have heard their fair share of presentations, and, keep in mind, most people under-perform when it comes to presentations. Thus, the audience wants a more fulfilling experience. Seize the opportunity because the audience wants to enjoy you.
People love people. Remember this the next time you present. There is no need to get nervous.
“V” is for Vamp
I have spent several years working in the area of marketing. Based on my experiences, no advertisement is worth anything if there is no call to action. The same rule applies with public speaking. If you don’t inspire or challenge the audience to do something, then why speak to them? You have the opportunity to change lives – challenge them, motivate them, ask them to do something with the new information they have learned.
“O” is for Ovation
John F. Kennedy once said, “The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.” This is very true. What other activity in life allows an individual the opportunity to stand in front of a group, crowd, or stadium full of anxious listeners – watching, listening, and ready to hear what you have to say? It can be a very empowering experience. Take advantage of it. Live it. Breathe it. Change the world today with your presentation.
Presentations need to be memorable. Wouldn’t it be great if they were even remembered 3-6 months after your presentation? Keep the BRAVO formula in mind next time you prepare for a presentation. You’ll see tremendous results. I promise.
About the Author
Scott Schwertly is a presentation coach, speaker, and writer. He has held various positions in the area of development, television and marketing. Scott has a B.A. in Communications and a M.B.A. from Harding University. He currently serves as both founder and CEO of Ethos3 Communications ( www.ethos3.com ) and is the author of the blog SpeakingonSpeaking.com.
Tips for helping speakers sound less “preachy” and more “powerful”
I recently received e-mail from a reader who thought his speeches sounded too preachy. He asked me to you give him some pointers on know how to make his presentations more entertaining and less preachy. Another way of asking the same question is “How do you sound more natural and less like a know-it-all?” I responded with these tips on “transforming preachy into powerful…”
Don’t sound like a know-it-all
Maybe you are a know-it-all…or at least in your field. And that’s precisely why people have come to hear you speak. If you are an authority then your credentials speak for themselves. The audience expects you to have knowledge they don’t have and you’ve already been introduced as a know-it-all. So relax and get conversational. What you want to avoid is adopting a tone of voice or speaking style that alienates your audience and makes them feel ridiculed, demeaned, or preached to.
Here are a few suggestions that might help you ease up on the preach while still getting your message across.
- Examine your text
- Write your message for the ear rather than the eye. Remember your audience will be hearing what you have to say. They won’t be reading it.
- Use words that are easy for your audience to understand
- Avoid technical jargon.
- Keep your sentences short but descriptive.
- Avoid statements that sound like edicts: You should…You must…
- Include your audience with statements like, “As you already know…” “I’m sure you’ve discovered….”
- Sprinkle your message with humor.
- Tell stories and anecdotes in third person. ” I have a friend”… My father always told me…”
Examine your style
Don’t read your text, no matter how good you think it is. You can’t maintain a conversational tone or have good eye contact if your head is down and you are reading.
- Speak to your audience not at them
- Breathe naturally
- Use hand gestures that are inclusive
- Don’t point. Use an open hand when gesturing to the audience
- Vary your volume and rate to keep interest and add intrigue
- Move away from the lectern
- View your audience as valued friends
- View your message as one to be shared
Relax and have fun with your presentation! Your audience will be more receptive to your message. They’ll leave the room feeling entertained and not preached to.
If you have a question about speaking style or presentation tips, please email Beverly at BCohen @ presentationteam . com