Yoda said, “Do or not do. There is no try.” Whether you are giving your first presentation or another in a long series, don’t settle for the status quo. Don’t tell yourself there’s not enough time to do your best.
These twelve tips will help you connect with your audience in ways that go beyond your message.
Three ways to own the room
- Visit the room hours before the event for the purpose of “owning” the space. Walk the room and, if relevant, the stage. You should know how many steps you can take from center stage to either edge of it.
- Meet with the A/V team and run a sound check. Be friendly but insist on a wireless mic that will allow you to move away from the podium.
- Arrive at least one hour before show time. Mingle and meet people. Never roll in last minute and jump start your keynote with a room full of strangers.
Four steps to a great introduction
- It’s best to have someone introduce you in an upbeat, concise way. Long introductions are boring.
- Take the guesswork out of your introduction by preparing it yourself, or in concert with the meeting planner. Don’t make the the person who will introduce you do all the work.
- Send a short intro in advance that answers the questions, “Why this topic, Why this speaker,” and ask that it be adhered to, period.
- In a traditional setting, it is the job of the person introducing you is to stay at the front of the room until you get there, shake your hand and exit. If the individual leaves as you approach, there’s a disconnect for the audience. Their eyes will bounce back and forth between you and the introducer. Cover this with the individual who will introduce you; don’t leave it to chance that they understand the intricacies of interpersonal communications.
Five things to check before you take the podium
- Many speakers scamper to the front of the room when introduced, looking down and making sure they have their notes. Hear this: your talk begins when you are invited to the front.
- Anticipate and welcome the surge of adrenaline. Breathe slowly from the diaphragm and let that surge give you a heightened platform of energy.
- Posture is the first “hello.” Stand with shoulders back and stride with purpose toward the stage.
- Sit close to the front so it’s a short trip—and never bounce down from the back of the room like a game show host.
- Check your expression. If you look serious and somber, we anticipate the same kind of keynote. Don’t feel obliged to radiate a 1000-watt smile if it isn’t natural; a natural smile and appropriate positivity will invite the audience to connect with you. If you are sincerely pleased to be in the room and interested in connecting with us, we will know it.