Remember the last boring or tedious presentation you endured? Here are tips to keep your own presentations above that league. How many of us get bored when we go to a presentation, or sit in a meeting that is not stimulating? Lots of us.
So remember when it is our turn to present – let’s ensure we do a good job! Here are some tips:
Use body language and tone, don’t drone
Most people focus their effort on the words, and ignore the importance of body language and tone of voice. Surprisingly, the actual words you use are less important than you might imagine.
Most people see whether you are nervous, or credible, or shifty, but not take in the precise argument you are trying to make. If you appear insincere, no one will believe you, no matter what you might actually be saying. If you talk energetically, and powerfully, you will seem more credible. Watch the US election speeches and see who is performing best!
Be yourself; don’t try to be someone else. And don’t cram your whole presentation up with too many words, because you feel it’s important to get all those points covered. It is not about being comprehensive. It’s about delivering a message with conviction and enthusiasm.
Never underestimate the power of a smile. When we communicate over the phone and on voicemail, we can’t use body language, and therefore the tone of our voice becomes even more important. Yet still people worry about the choice of words, rather than focusing on speaking confidently, warmly and enthusiastically. Be passionate. Think about messages you have heard, and which ones impress you and which ones don’t. Tone of voice has a lot to do with it.
Listen to your audience
Listening to the audience is the essence of good speech making. If you’re a very good orator you can hold people entranced for a long time, but there are very few of us who can do that no matter how practiced we are.Be aware when your audience is losing energy. Tell a story or change pace, cut part of the words, sum up, or involve them. If we don’t involve them, they will soon ignore us.Listening means looking at the faces in the audience, so you can build rapport. You’ll be able to notice when people start yawning, or fidgeting or even walking out! <
I watched a person giving a boring speech and he even used the words “to conclude” – and a few people perked up. But he went on for at least another 10 minutes, turning pages of his notes, regardless, to get to the end. He wasn’t listening to the audience.
Listening skills are of course crucial to building a relationship, especially on a one to one basis.
What is the easiest way to involve the audience?
Ask questions. Remind yourself: “I will involve the audience by asking questions.” Make sure the questions relate to the audience and to the topic.
One of the fundamental essentials for communication – usually forgotten by anyone giving a speech – is that communication is two way. If it’s just from the speaker to the audience, one way, then the chances are you’re not communicating. So you need to involve the audience.
And if you forget your train of thought?
Don’t go over and over typical presentation negative thinking: “What if I go blank?” This is an anxiety script and usually occurs when you’re not sure what you’re talking about. We usually don’t go blank talking to friends (or do you?). Use memory joggers. And make points you KNOW about!
Learn to use silence
Be comfortable with silence – most people don’t understand its power. You don’t have to speak continuously. In fact, pausing helps people focus and concentrate, and allows them to think. Silence adds power and energy.
- Use positive internal scripts – “I will enjoy this. I will relax and have fun with this presentation. I am in control. I will smile.”
- And do smile; have fun, use your hands… don’t stick in one spot, be energetic!
- Don’t read your presentation.
- Don’t overuse slides.
- Less is more.
- Use a powerful opening.
- Use questions and give examples.
- Ask for examples from the group.
- Breathe to be calm.
- Listen to the audience.
- Use variety.
- Be creative with your subject matter.
- Close powerfully.
By Eve Ash, psychologist and Managing Director, Seven Dimensions, and co-author with Rob Gerrand of Rewrite Your Life! (Penguin Australia) and co-producer with Peter Quarry (Ash.Quarry Productions) of “Presentations without Fear” from the Teamwork Essentials Series
Click here for more Eve Ash blogs<