If you want to watch great presenters in action, you can watch a few TED Talks, attend a conference, go to a religious service or participate in a political rally.
Or you can turn on the TV news and wait for the weather report.
It’s true. While many people heap grief on their friendly neighborhood meteorologists (“Get it right—we cancelled our plans because you predicted rain!”), the best ones out there tend to be great presenters.
Consider what TV meteorologists do on a regular basis:
They explain complicated scientific topics—weather systems—to an audience of non-scientists, effortlessly simplifying difficult concepts to make sure the average viewer can get them. (You can always tell when these details are poorly communicated. We remember an old weatherman named Mr. Roberts from Champaign, Illinois who always seemed to struggle to explain “degree days.”)
They work effectively with a series of “virtual” visual aids. If you think it’s hard to remember to reference your slides, imagine if they weren’t actually there on the screen! Weather forecasters today stand in front of a solid green screen, with the maps added in the production room. They rely on glancing at off-screen monitors to make sure they’re pointing to the right place.
They use humor, small talk, attention to detail, and sometimes just the right amount of urgency to build a rapport with their viewers, without using a script or repeating themselves too often. They use a variety of big gestures to demonstrate which way the wind will be blowing, where the low-pressure system will go once it crosses the Rockies, or where tornadoes are most likely to touch down.They’re funny, easy to watch and even well respected.
For your next boardroom presentation, be sure to interact with your PowerPoint slides or the whiteboard as if you’re delivering the weather. If it feels like you’re overdoing it and imitating your favorite TV forecaster*, chances are it will appear confident and engaging to your listeners.
*We think about NBC’s Al Roker, Chicago’s Tom Skilling (and, some years back, John Coleman), Minneapolis’ Belinda Jensen, LA’s Dallas Raines, and New York City’s Janice Huff. Certainly there are others who set a high bar as meteorologists who use great presenting skills to connect with their viewers. If we missed your favorite, please set us straight.