Recently, I had the opportunity to coach a business owner on a presentation he was giving. The interesting thing to me was how nervous he was given how knowledgeable he is on the subject matter. He knows his stuff!
In our conversations about the topic, he was passionate and engaged in the information. But in speaking about the presentation, he expressed concern and an almost apologetic lack of confidence.
They (I am not sure who “they” are) say that a most people fear speaking in public more than death! I don’t know what the actual statistics are but in my coaching and in conversations with professionals over the years, I’ve certainly seen a remarkable amount of fear of giving presentations.
Public Speaking is Career Gold
The ability to speak in public, to provide an effective workshop or seminar, is an excellent career enhancer. Whether you are employed or in business for yourself, speaking in public has a number of tangible benefits.
I tell clients all the time, “the podium imparts credibility.” I’ll be more precise since I generally coach clients to NEVER stand behind a podium; being on stage and perceived as a subject matter expert or “thought leader” imparts credibility.
It forces you to clarify ideas:
Providing a workshop or seminar forces you to think more clearly about your topic. Well, it should. Given how scattered some presentation are, it is clear that some people are NOT taking the time to clarify the how and the why of their topic. If you want to be effective at giving presentations, you will clarify your ideas.
You almost can’t lose:
Whether you share brand new information or simply confirm information that is already known, a public presentation positions you as an expert.
If you get up and speak to a peer group, and you share information that they already know, in a clear, concise, dynamic, and entertaining fashion, you are an expert and are intelligent because you have confirmed their own intelligence. If you share a brand new piece of information, you are an expert because you shared a brand new piece of information.
Please note that you do NOT have to share something brand new, never known before. In business, there is very little of that.
The only way you can lose:
You cannot be boring! If you share brand new information but you deliver it in a monotone, static, “hiding behind the podium,” simply reading what is on your Powerpoint slides (or in your notes), manner, you will LOSE CREDIBILITY!
Tips to Help Your Presentations Rock!!!
So how can your deliver a more dynamic, entertaining, and impactful presentation? Try these tips.
1) Know Your Subject Matter
Sounds obvious… but it’s not. One of the best ways to know your material better is to create a simple outline. Whether you are speaking for 15 minutes or an hour, try to organize your subject matter under 3-5 main categories.
People don’t recall every tidbit of information. But if you have 3-5 main points, and then place details in those main points, there is a much greater chance that they will be able to recall some of those details.
I also tell clients to think like a Baptist Preacher. If you can provide an alliteration or acrostic, do it.
Below is a simple outline for a theoretical presentation on sales.
ask them about them
get them sharing
of your understanding of their pain
of your passion to solve it
Okay.. maybe it isn’t great! (or maybe it is). But it helps you more clearly articulate your ideas and a broad concept with finer detail.
I provide a presentation on networking and developing relationships that I call, “Relationship POTTY Training.” POTTY is an acrostic I use based on a story about my 3rd child.
P – Put yourself in relationship’s way
O – Take advantage of relationship opportunities
T – Train for conversation
T – Try something different
Y – You have only the opportunity presented; take it
How did I come up with this acrostic and why? Read this article.
2) Have a Strong Intro
I once had the opportunity to hear Vince Poscente present. Very dynamic. His advice is simple and excellent for a great intro. He said, “Eyes, Ears, Heart!”
NOTE: He used 3 main items to help us remember.
Eyes: be in motion, don’t just stand there. Stay away from a podium.
Ears: vocal fluctuation – dynamics. change pitch, volume, etc.
Heart: Tell a story that is personal or engages the listener more than just some fact.
In my relationship POTTY training presentation, I talk about a funny, somewhat embarrassing “kids say the darndest things” story about my son. It gets a laugh but then I use it to emphasize the rest of my presentation.
3) Tie Your Intro and Conclusion Together
People may forget the details of a presentation. But if you can conclude your presentation by referring back to some phrase or idea from your intro story, it puts an amazing exclamation point on the key idea you want them to remember.
4) Cover Less Material
We think we need to share tons and tons of information to be perceived as an expert. The truth is, this is a recipe to be viewed as confusing and scattered. I once attended a technical presentation by a Microsoft employee. He was covering a product I knew and I used. But he covered so MUCH detail without any true organization that I told a friend who was there with me that I felt I now knew less about the product than I did before.
I honestly believe the presenter was more interested in demonstrating how smart he was than truly sharing valuable information with the group.
Give your audience less and they will view you are more intelligent and understandable.
5) Practice Presenting
There is no way around this. You need to get out and do it. You’ll have some horror stories to tell too. But you probably won’t die in the process.
Consider joining a local Toastmasters organization. You’ll be “forced” to present and learn some valuable techniques to help you.
Most people feel I am never nervous when I present. There are times I am more and less nervous. The truth is, when I have NO nervousness, I tend to be too lax and unfocused. This is true presenting or performing.. I’ve forgotten key points and I’ve forgotten lyrics on stage. Some nervousness means you are engaged.
When I was 15 I took an article writing class with my father. Everyone in the class was old – like 30 or something… 😉 I had to present an article idea in front of the class.
I always remember how the room started spinning and the next thing I knew, my father and the teacher were catching me as I fainted! If you see me present, you will be certain that never occurred but I promise you it did. Practice is critical.
BONUS TIP: About Presentation Slides or Using Powerpoint
I’ll cover this with an examples in a future blog but a couple quick notes:
DO NOT USE A LIST OF ITEMS AND THEN TELL YOUR AUDIENCE THAT LIST VERBATIM!
We all hate that when someone does that to us. We can read and so we don’t need the presenter.
Use a full screen picture with one more (or no words) to emphasize a point. Emotional impact is better than reading a bunch of text.
Reduce the number of slides and DO NOT USE FLASHY TRANSITIONS. That screams lack of confidence and knowledge.
Get Out and Present
Try it soon. Speaking in public is one of the most effective ways to fast track your career or business. I would love to hear your speaking stories – both good and bad.