Watching an old M*A*S*H episode, we saw Colonel Potter (played by the late Harry Morgan) reading to a group of Korean children. Since he had no children’s books, he read to them from his gun manual, and managed to bring the content to life through intonation and expression. Sometimes communicating with young people can help you prepare to speak to a corporate audience.
When he tried to stop reading, the kids pointed back to the book, insisting that he continue. They were focused on his every word,even though they understood none of it. (You may run into this episode, which is called “The Kids”. Jamie Farr—who played Klinger—once said that at every minute of every day, there’s a M*A*S*H rerun playing on TV somewhere in the world.)
Practice making a presentation by talking about your job to a child. Do whatever it takes to hold their attention. Make lots of eye contact, and use gestures liberally. Listen to their questions and respond with both patience and focus.
If there aren’t any children available, imagine yourself speaking to one. Practice delivering your material as if you’re reading a story to kids. Think of yourself as an entertainer and go overboard in every way: be melodramatic, vary the tones of your voice, or slow your delivery.
Audiences, like children, enjoy being entertained. By practicing this technique, you can expect to stumble onto a few skills that will work for you, even in the most conservative boardroom. Try it…it’ll bring out the kid in you.