Giving a great speech is never easy, it takes work! Speaking is a frightening thing for most people, yet once you learn how to channel that anxiety, the world opens up for you. Whether you’re giving a short speech during a monthly meeting, training routine information, or giving a presentation that promotes you or your business, what you say and how you say it helps you get noticed and be influential. Here are five tips that will make a big difference in your presentation style.
- It’s Game Time! Arrive 15-20 minutes earlier than normal. Take the time to adjust your environment and put on your “game face”:
- Claim your space. Take 5 to set up your space, check the temperature, lighting, and the microphone, and make sure you’ve got room to move around. Take 5 to set up the slides and technology.
- Review the “playbook”. What do you want people to get from this speech? (i.e.: “my intention is to help this audience manage risk and compliance issues without stress”) What do you expect from the audience? Purpose + Audience = Speaker’s Actions and Behaviors.
- Get your “game face” on. Get “centered” with diaphragmatic breathing, a set of ten shoulder rolls, and some neck stretches. Drink some water. Hum a favorite tune. Think about what you want people to say to you when the speech is finished. Do you want them to give you a standing ovation, or better yet, book you for more speaking engagements? Or will they tell you that you have changed their life or made their job easier? Tell yourself you are well prepared to give this presentation. Believe it!
- Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! Great presenters don’t wing their speech. They’re ready. You can certainly make it look like you are giving your presentation with ease, and preparing your presentation ahead of time will increase your chances for success. Know your three to five key points. Vary how you communicate these points; say them loudly one time, with pauses the next, and with other special attributes the third time. Planning allows you to edit the presentation so that only your best material – and your best style – is offered. If you tend to ramble, veer off topic, or say “um” a lot, seek the advice of a speech coach. Preparation makes the day better for you and for your audience.
- Go Big or Stay on the Bench. Even dry information (like say, compliance issues) can be made interesting if the speaker is wound up about the topic. If you’re speaking about something you love, then the audience will love it with you. Speak right from your heart, with passion. Gauge your energy level throughout the presentation and try to keep the energy high at the beginning, middle and end of the speech. It should flow like a roller coaster. If the topic is routine and mundane, and you’re doing your very best to bring some excitement to the topic, try the next steps.
- Give me an “E”! Here are a few ideas for facilitating audience participation and infusing the room with energy and enthusiasm. Use a wireless microphone and stand where people can see your entire body. Take hourly stretch breaks and breathe. Walk around, make eye contact, interact with people one-on-one, ask compelling questions and have the audience shout out the answers. Let a participant read one of your slides. Have the audience share something with their neighbor (i.e.: how will they incorporate new regulations or policies, or use some of this new information you have shared?). Have someone write out the most important points of each section on large paper and tape them to the wall. Or tape them on the wall in a way to form a word or shape (Christmas tree, maybe). Try new things and notice the energy in the room change. If you are relaxed and having fun, then they will feel it and follow you.
- Do You Remember When…? We remember stories. We learn from stories. We even dream in stories. Illustrate key points in a compelling story. Sitting through a presentation that is all theory rarely engages both sides of our brains, so we tend to drift off, or even sleep. If you can, use real-life or embellished stories. Use humor if you are naturally funny, but don’t force it. Ask others to tell their stories.
With coaching, practice, and a well prepared game plan, you can be a terrific presenter and influence peoples’ lives in untold ways. Its great fun to have your messages be heard and your stories retold. Keep practicing and believe in yourself.