When I think back to my college days and my first presentations I remember one tutor very clearly and to this day he is my public speaking guru, he’s my ‘Tony Robbins’! If it weren’t for Mr. Rutland, I wouldn’t have got the wake-up call I needed to get the focus of my presentation where it belonged: Off me and on to my audience. I want to share the strategies for great presentations which I learnt from the wonderful Mr Rutland with you.
Here’s the scenario:
I had to give a final presentation in one of my college courses. I was acting and performing regularly so I figured I had a pretty good shot of dazzling my unprepossessing tutor.
Mr. Rutland patiently sat through my 15 minute presentation. There were a lot of slick slides my friends had helped me with. I had some funny jokes, flashy body and hand movements, and a few sarcastic comments, all the bells and whistles!
When I finished, I was beaming, waiting for my tutor to tell me how brilliant I was. He smiled, nodded, and then he said the words that would stay with me until today,
‘Stop trying to be interesting to the audience. Be interested in the audience’
How could I have gotten it so wrong? Wasn’t I entertaining, polished, and prepared? Didn’t I do all the homework ?
The answer is yes to all those, however I was missing
One fundamental truth that drives all the best speakers, speeches, and presentations: It’s not about you. It’s always about the audience.
So here are a few strategies for great presentations to help you to take your attention off yourself and focus it instead, on the audience during your next presentation or keynote.
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes
You need to ask the question your audience is asking themselves, ‘What’s in it for me?’. Audiences consider their time important so they want to know it’s going to be well spent listening to you. They want a reason to listen. This is probably one of the most important strategies for great presentations, so PLEASE give it time and thought. You have to give them that reason in the first 30 seconds or you’ll lose them. Here’s where a strong ‘Hook’ comes in; have a strong hook right at the start and give them what they want – you tell them exactly why they should listen.
Great vocal delivery can make or break a presentation
Audiences are always looking for a reason to tune you out so don’t give them one. By using vocal techniques and skills like pace, pause, pitch, volume, and articulation you can change up the audio and keep their ears interested. These are the pallet of colours and textures you have to create great vocal delivery and they work, so it’s worth learning, practicing, and using them.
Make eye contact – make them the centre of your universe
Audience’s love to feel like they’re the center of attention so show them that they are the centre of your universe for those minutes by making eye contact. By using eye contact, open body posture, or hand gestures you can make an emotional connection with your audience that will keep them listening.
This TEDTalk from Daniel Levitin is an example of good eye contact
Never underestimate the power of a smile
Smiling makes you feel good and tells your audience you are happy to be there. It has to be more than just words so face them, connect with them, and show them through your delivery how important they are.
What do they know and what do they feel?
When you begin to map out your presentation (and you should do this before you even look at Powerpoint) ask yourself these questions:
(1) What does your audience know before you present and what do they feel?
(2)What do you want them to know and want them to feel afterwards?
This will help form the framework for a presentation that engages them.
This, along with a good, strong hook, will create the bones of a presentation that puts your audience’s needs first.
Remember the word GENEROSITY
When you get nervous and feel that urge to start ‘performing’ or even worse run away, just remind yourself of one thing:
“it’s not about you. It’s all about the audience. Whew!”
Take the pressure off yourself. How generous can you be with the information you have to give? How can you be of service to your audience in that moment? Take the focus off you and turn it instead, on to what you can do for your audience.
Audiences don’t want to do any work, they want you to take them by the hand and show them how important they are and all the great stuff they’re going to get out of your presentation. They want to feel good after you leave the stage. They want to get the sense that their time was well spent.
So remember, take the spotlight off yourself and turn it on the most important people in the room: Your audience. Through great delivery, give them a reason to listen: Look and sound confident and engaged, get into your audience’s mindset and do your homework on who they are and what their challenges might be, and above all be generous. If you remember it’s always about the audience, you’re halfway there to a knock out delivery that will get you the results you want and keep everyone wanting to hear just a little bit more.
Confident Speak is a Presentation, Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We have worked with leading Irish and international companies and executives.
Contact us for details on how we can help you build great strategies for presentations.
t – +353 1 9696056
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ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.