When Pam called she was in a panic.
“I really need your help!” she said, “I have to make a big presentation at our annual conference next month.”
“Great!” I said, “Having an important deadline to practice for will give us lots of momentum.”
“You don’t understand,” she moaned, “All my professional peers will be there.”
“It’s all good,” I said. “It’s an opportunity to build trust and influence in your industry.”
When Pam came to Interact Studio, we watched a few videos of amazing communicators who spoke with authenticity. We agreed they had four bases covered. They seemed to tell their listeners:
I know who you are, and I am sincerely interested in bringing you value.
I have both substance and story.
I know my subject and I have a memorable point.
I am organized and I will be finished on time.
Most people don’t put the heart and grit into preparation and practice. Set your sights on being the person who rounds the bases, holds the room in a moment of sincere intention, and makes a meaningful and memorable point.
Five Tips to Help Your Next Presentation
- Distill your message. Brevity in itself is a tool of connection. We are more likely to hear what you say if you say it briefly. One of the reasons TED talks are so listenable is their length: 18 minutes. Early on, the folks at TED found that given 18-minutes, speakers who are used to lecturing for 45 minutes have to really think about what they want to say to bring it down to 18 minutes.
- Facilitate a conversation. Author Dr. John Medina suggests that if you must speak longer than 10 minutes, become a facilitator of dialogue to engage listeners. Get them moving, thinking and talking. Break up your talk into 10 minute segments and use stories, videos, exercises and discussion.
- Humanize the content. Use words that evoke imagery. Too often speakers with technical topics feel they have to present a text book, which can put the audience into a coma. No matter what your field, use compelling facts + story.
- Rethink PowerPoint. If your slides look like eye charts you will fall short of an engaging presentation—every time. Notice what effective speakers do with just few slides. They use images to deepen the meaning of their message.
- Practice. Talk through your presentation with a coach or teammate. Trust yourself to speak from your own knowledge, rather than from a script. Find a way to tap into what matters to you about the topic. Let that energy flow out and connect with listeners.
A Wonderful Opportunity
Are you facing a moment in the spotlight? Maybe it’s your first time speaking to a big crowd, or you’re making an important presentation to your board. Guess what? It’s a wonderful opportunity.
What ever you do, don’t settle for an unremarkable, mediocre talk. Put your heart into it like Pam, and you might run to call your friend (or coach) after the talk and say, “Wahoo! I hit a home run!”