This is the most important group to consider when planning a presentation. Without an audience, what would be the point of presenting?
Think of benefits as the main course. They are the most important details for you to share. Prepare a list of benefits by asking: what will the audience gain by listening to you or by accepting your recommendation?
Repetitive gestures, non-words, nervous movement such as rocking and pacing, and other distractions make
it harder for you to present your key messages. Become aware of unconscious ways that speakers distract
When you play in doubt, doubt wins. (see Playing Soft) To counter, avoid using qualifying words that undermine confidence, such as can, might, think, or should.
Energy (see The Fundamentals)
Most audiences prefer to watch a presentation where the speaker is clearly making an effort to connect with the audience. Energy comes out as vocal variety, gestures and facial expression, helping you show passion and gain positive listener response. Energy is also a great mask, effectively covering up nervousness.
Eye Contact (see The Fundamentals)
Maintain eye contact with individual audience members long enough to complete your thought (3-5 seconds), rather than shifting your gaze from side to side.
Facial Expression (see The Fundamentals)
Use smiles, frowns, and other varied expressions to keep your audience engaged. Take a tip from stage actors: bigger audiences call for bigger expressions.
There are eight fundamentals that will impact how every speaker is perceived by an audience. Great speakers learn to excel in each area: energy, eye contact, facial expression, gestures, movement, non-words, pauses and speaking pace. Click here to see them all in one place.
Gestures (see The Fundamentals)
Use natural movements of your arms, hands and body to emphasize your main points. Avoid actions such as pointing, arms crossed or on your hips, or playing with your fingers.
I, Me and My
We hate to be the ones to tell you, but when you’re presenting, no one really cares about YOU. Your job is to convince listeners that your ideas mean something to them. So avoid these words and focus more on “you,” “your”, and “we.”
This is a misunderstood objective. Many people we work with mistakenly believe they are informing their audience when they really need to persuade their audience.
The first minute or two of your presentation, where you grab attention and “tell them what you’re going to tell them.” Start off with an effective POW! Statement, state your case, and share the benefits.
Johnny Cash Day
EMS seminar participants often dress like the famous “man in black” on the second day of training, hopeful that they’ll look slimmer when they see themselves on camera. (These are the same people who say: “I’m never wearing THAT outfit again.”)
Lighten up, Francis
We use this line from the 1980 Bill Murray movie, Stripes, to remind speakers that they don’t have to take themselves so seriously in front of a group. Feel free to smile and use facial expression, even when presenting to a board of directors or a room full of accountants. (We’re grateful to our big toe, Sgt. Hulka, for this one.)
Movement (see The Fundamentals)
Purposeful movement, such as walking around the room, stepping forward, and approaching your audience helps to create a stronger connection to the listener. To help avoid nervous movement such as rocking, plant your feet when standing in place.
There’s a big difference between being nervous and looking nervous. Use energy to keep your voice strong and your movement natural.
Non-words (see The Fundamentals)
By all means possible, work to eliminate meaningless words (such as umm, OK, uhh, and others) from your presentations. They are extremely distracting to your listeners. SNAP!
Practice standing on a large piece of paper to eliminate rocking and shifting caused by nervous energy. When you hear the paper crinkle, you know you’re distracting from your message. (No, we are NOT puppy trainers!)
Pauses (see The Fundamentals)
Taking short breaks between thoughts helps the audience focus on your message, and also helps the speaker eliminate non-words. Pause early and often, we always say!
The image you want to convey to listeners each time that you communicate. Do you want to be professional, trustworthy, insightful, confident, or all of the above? You pick the adjectives, and then back them up with purposeful action.
Reality. It’s never wrong. Get it? Good speakers use techniques such as The Fundamentals to impact how they are perceived by their audience.
A vital objective in almost every presentation: most speeches are delivered to convince audiences to take on a specific belief, cause or action. Don’t ever confuse this with informing.
Going through the motions, taking the easy path, and giving less than full effort conveys doubt and encourages negative perceptions. Competitors love when you play soft.
The term we use to emphasize the importance of a strong opening. Start every presentation with a
compelling introduction, and start every introduction with a POW! Statement (such as an attention-grabbing question, statistic, quote, analogy, story or joke) that will grab their interest and set the stage for the rest of your content.
We’re not your parents, so we won’t bug you to do your homework. But the best presenters we know are ones who prepare, ask for feedback, and practice ahead of time.
If you’re having trouble planning your content, try thinking of questions that your audience might ask. Use those answers as your talking points.
SELL It, Don’t TELL It
Owning your message is always preferable to simply giving out information. Deliver your presentation with passion and conviction. Instead of your audience saying “thanks,” they’ll walk away saying “WOW.”
We use this technique to help eliminate non-words by snapping when our clients use them. (It’s less invasive, and more legal, than our previous method: electroshock therapy!)
A big, authentic smile is a great way to connect with any live audience. Business doesn’t always have to be serious. (see Lighten Up, Francis).
Speaking Pace (see The Fundamentals)
Should you speak quickly or slowly? Both, if you want to hold your audience’s attention for your entire presentation. Speed helps convey passion and excitement, while slowing down helps people focus on main points and big ideas. Just not TOO quickly or slowly!
Always wrap-up by restating your main points, making the last thing you say the most memorable. That way, you’ll have a lasting impact on your audience.
Trust Yourself to Be Yourself
It’s liberating to be yourself, rather than the conservative business professional you think you need to be. Your audience will appreciate seeing the real YOU (unless, of course, you’re really a jerk, in which case…be someone ELSE).
Using the Room
No one says you have to stay behind a lectern. Walking purposefully from side to side, making broad
gestures, and moving towards individual audience members has a powerful impact on a presentation.
(see Movement, Energy)
When presenting, take every opportunity to vary your volume and speaking pace, change facial expressions, move to a different part of the room, or to add a gesture. Variety helps connect presenter to listener, and keeps everyone more engaged throughout.
Often interpreted as slides that should contain the text of a presentation. But they can be quite distracting. Less is always more: if it doesn’t help the speaker engage the audience, it isn’t a visual aid.
Use this technique carefully and purposefully, turning it both up and down to keep your audience engaged.
His famous recipe for a successful speech still works today: 1) Tell them what you’re going to tell them, 2) Tell them, and 3) Tell them what you told them.