A lack of effective Presentation Skills (public speaking) will seriously harm your career prospects. Whether you are starting out in a company or are the CEO, you will be judged on your ability to present ideas in way that engage the audience.
But fear not! The ability to present or speak well is within everyone’s grasp. I have coached the most boring of CEO’s and the most timid of junior staff to speak and present with impact.
Firstly, realize that we live in a multi-sensory interactive world and your audience will respond warmly if you remember this. So an effective presentation in the 21st century is NOT just talking AT your audience, nor is it ‘DEATH by POWERPOINT’.
Presentation Skills – 3 Maxims
My first Presentation Skills maxim is: “NO Engagement NO Interest.”
This is plainly intuitive, if you have sat through a boring presentation, your interest will first wain then wander. So the question is, “how to get engagement?”
The easiest way to create engagement is to create involvement. Your audience is not a passive receptor of your message; they are a dynamic part of it. Right at the beginning of your presentation, pose a question or use a quick activity that causes the audience to think about and feel the importance of your message.
The question or activity, must ‘pace’ the audiences current reality. If I am presenting to a group that has been told, “You HAVE to be there” I might ask “What would you rather be doing rather than be at this presentation?” Or I might ask the audience to show their partner, using body language, how they feel about an issue related to my presentation topic.
Having created some engagement through involvement we can link this to the subject of the presentation like this, “Realizing you think or feel ‘X’ about ‘Y’ let’s talk about ….”
My second maxim of presentation skills is, “Competence PLUS Confidence.”
I have seen competent people lack confidence in presenting and confident people lack competence (nothing is as dangerous as a confident fool!).
When coaching people to feel confident to present well, I use the Self Leadership technique of finding a cue of something you are already confident doing; such as boiling an egg, riding a bike etc. and amplifying this feeling of confidence so that you can access this feeling in your mind and body before presenting. With some rehearsal it is possible to feel confident and apply this confidence to the act of presenting. For those with an actual fear of presenting click here. It is a catch 22 that we must feel some confidence to attempt to present well and only when we do this will we gain the competence; and with competence comes confidence!
An effective presenter is also competent in the subject matter of their presentation. Sometimes this just means you are competent to share your perspective on a limited piece of information. My daughter started a playschool drama class when she was just 18 months old. One of the first things they were taught was to confidently and competently respond to the question, “what’s your name?” She is now 10 years old and is both competent and confident to speak in a variety of situations.
If you must present, learn everything you can about the subject and Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. You may only speak about 2% of what you know but your competence will show when you can make the complex simple.
This brings me to my third Presentation Skills maxim, “Make it Sticky”
People will only remember one or two or three points from your presentation, so plan your presentation so that those 2-3 points will stick with them. Techniques for making a point stick include:
- Repetition – remember kinder garden and repeating your ABC’s over and over.
- Gestures or Actions – get the knowledge from the mind into the body with a powerful physical trigger.
- Visuals or Video – we live in a multimedia world so use powerful graphic or short videos to create a visual link to your sticky points.
- Humor – if you can make them laugh you light up their brain with feel good chemicals (endorphins) and increase retention.
- KISS – keep it super simple is an acronym and acronyms can be great memory triggers.
- Summarize – tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you told them.
So in Summary, here are my 3 Rules for Effective Presentation Skills
1. No engagement = No interest
2. Confidence Plus Competence
3. Make it ‘Sticky’