“Unique connections, even if there are 1 or 500 people in your audience, are purposeful, personal, and passionate. Your message needs to be relevant and responsive to the audience needs and interest.” -Coach Mark
We all know that a lack of effective communication skills (public speaking) will seriously harm your career and relationship prospects. Whether you are a project manager, frontline employee, or CEO, your ability to communicate in a clear and compelling manner will be important component on how successful you will be. If you can not communicate and connect with your different shareholders your great ideas and intellect will not matter. So how do you go about making a positive impression and gain credibility with any audience.
1. Your audience will respond warmly if you remember to not just talk or lecture at them but find creative ways to connect and engage with them.
My first rule of sticky presentations is “NO Connection = NO Interest.”
This is plainly intuitive, if you have sat through a boring presentation, you disconnect because the presenter does not take your needs into consideration and does not make the message relevant to your problems, needs and interest. So the question is, “how to effectively connect with your audience?
a. The easiest way to create a connection is to meet as many people 1 to 1 before you walk on stage. Then, use some of the information you have gathered in your “meet and greet” conversations to salt into your opening remarks. This technique provides a valuable time for you to get to know people and gather information that makes your present come alive to the audience.
b. Create audience member engagement and involvement. Your audience does want to be a passive vessel for you to empty your message into; they want to be an active and engaged part of your presentation. Right at the beginning of your presentation, pose a challenging question or use a quick activity like an audience survey to find out their needs and interest in your topic; this kind of activity always works because the audience now feels that you care about them and you have provided an opportunity for them to think about and provide input into the presentation design. This method provides content so that your message can be customized to their interests and questions.
The question or activity, must align with the audience members current reality, needs and issues to get and hold their attention. If I am presenting to a group that has been told, “You HAVE to be in attendance to receive CPE credits or other reasons. I might ask “What would they rather be doing than be at this presentation?” Or I might ask the audience to tell another member what would make this a great presentation. After their short discussion I will conduct a shout out session to get some feedback on their discussions.
Having created some engagement through involvement we can link this to the subject of the presentation like this, “Knowing you are interested in “A” let’s begin by discussing why “A” is important…”
My second rule of presentation skills is, “No Competence=No 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 Cognitive Behavioral Technique of Mental Rehearsal that when confronted with anxiety or performance confidence issues. This CBT technique encourages finding a trigger of something you are already confident doing such as playing the piano, or shooting a foul shot in basketball etc. and tap into this past experience and feeling of confidence so that you can access this feeling in your mind and body before presenting. For some people this lack of confidence or anxiety about presenting is a “double bind” 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.
So when getting ready for your presentation learn everything you can about the topic and subject to be discussed by doubling the amount of prep and practice compared to the allocated length of your speech. For example, for a 1 hour speech put in at least three hours of prep and practice time.You may only speak about 10% of what you know but your competence will show when you can make your subject matter clear, concise and compelling.
This brings me to my third rule, “No Compelling Message No Memory or transfer by Audience to Action ”
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.
- Story Telling– powerful personal stories engage the audience and are great memory triggers for your message.
So in Summary, here are my 3 Rules for Making Sticky and Effective Presentation Skills
1. No Connection = No interest
2. No Competence =No Confidence
4. No Memorable Message = No Transfer to Action