5 Secrets Of Dynamic Presenters
At some point in your career as you ascend the corporate ladder you will be called upon to make a presentation. Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, is said to be so nerve-racking most people would rather prefer to die than give a speech. I know men and women who are dynamic and engaging in conversation, but if in front of an audience they become tense, rigid, and their gestures become robotic. What’s fascinating is although it’s more acute among strangers, the fear still persists in front of friends and colleagues.
I was recently invited by my mentor, Sylvie di Giusto, VP of the National Speakers Association, to their annual lunch. In less than an hour we, the audience, were taken on an emotional journey from laughter to tears, as industry heavyweights like Jeff Hayzlett took the stage. As I sat there riveted by their eloquence in delivery I observed a common thread. Each speaker wove a story into his presentation, and not one of them used PowerPoint slides.
In business, it’s not considered a real presentation unless you have PowerPoint slides. A common mistake is relying too heavily on technology to reach an audience. Every time you turn away from your audience to focus on a slide you are breaking eye contact with them, weakening your connection, and losing your impact. I cannot underscore the importance of establishing rapport with your audience and the easiest way to do this is with eye contact. It establishes credibility and trust. If you want your audience to buy what you’re selling, whether it is a product, idea, or service they have to believe you know what you’re talking about and believe in your cause. People often avoid eye contact when they are unsure of what they’re saying, don’t fully believe what they’re saying, or lack confidence in themselves.
I’ll tell you another little secret to boost your confidence, 99.9% of your audience wants you to succeed. No one wants to sit through yet another boring, fact-laden presentation. We want to be inspired, motivated, fascinated. We want to escape our work lives for an hour. Give the people what they want.
Relate to your audience. Tell them a story. Use illustrations and metaphors. Create a vision in their mind’s eye. You can even begin by saying, “Let me tell you a story…” Your story should be applicable and familiar. Sit in front of them, if that makes you more comfortable, or walk around the stage. Be enthusiastic, they’ll be eager to listen. Pretend they are guests in your living room. Come from behind the podium. It is a physical and symbolic barrier. Ask rhetorical questions, then provide the answers.
Test the sound system before you begin. It’s essential your messagebe heard by even the farthest person in the room. Have a conversational tone by varying your pitch, pace, and volume. Only robots speak in monotone. Unlike Chinese the meaning of our sentences does not completely change if we change our tone of voice. However, in English and many other languages our tone can convey other emotions which can alter the meaning. A seemingly innocuous phrase can be neutral, compassionate, sarcastic, or disinterested depending on our tone of voice. If we speak rapidly it conveys a sense of urgency or excitement. Your tone tells your listeners how to feel by conveying how you feel.
Whatever you say, say it with conviction. Can you imagine if Martin Luther King had mumbled through his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech? The reaction would not have been the same. In one powerful speech he managed to unite individuals from different social, economic, political, and ethnic backgrounds to a common cause. He galvanized a disenfranchised proletariat into a peaceful army which changed an entire nation. You may not be preaching about social change, but your objective is the same. You have a call to action, but if you whisper it, who will hear it? Who will come? Confidence sells. Period.
You should stand or sit straight but that doesn’t mean your arms have to be at your side throughout the presentation. Studies reveal 55% of our communication is nonverbal. Smile, when appropriate, use your hands and shoulders as you would in normal conversation. If necessary, use your entire body. If someone in the audience nods in agreement with a statement you just made, you nod too, to acknowledge them. Gestures reinforce our words because they enable us to connect emotionally with our audience.
When you have to provide a PowerPoint Presentation it should neither be monotone or so vivid in color your audience’s eyes don’t know where to focus. Keep text to a minimum and never use more than three fonts, two are preferred. If you must include a lot of text use multiple slides. If you are not proficient in this application enlist someone with superior skill in the early stages of developing your presentation. Companies have brand colors; you should not stray from them. Look at what c-suite executives are using in their presentations and imitate their format.
Know your presentation by heart. In the event of a technically difficulty you’ll be ready. If you apply these tips your next presentation will reach your desired outcome.
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