Speaking and presenting is something I’m passionate about. Why? Because it’s another way to start conversations and build relationships. Or, it can be, if you think about how you present. Here are some recommendations on ways to turn your bullhorn into a party hat in the presentation world.
First, Defuse the Bomb
You have less than two minutes to set up your relationship with the audience. Your audience needs to LOVE you. They have to want you to succeed. And as part of this, they want you to succeed, because they’re hoping to learn something about themselves from you.
Let me highlight that so you take it home with you: People want to learn about THEMSELVES through what you talk about in your presentations.
SUPER SECRET TIP: Tell a funny story. Not a joke. A story. Tell it EARLY. Be as FUNNY as you can muster. Self-depricating humor helps, if you’re any good at that. Be the authority, but be human.
Sneak In With Questions
You need to sneak into your audience’s hearts and minds. I love asking questions, but not so much the hand-raiser types. Sure, I do that schtick. But if I’m trying to get you engaged early, I want to ask you questions that get you rummaging through your own internal autobiography? Why? Because I want you to be connected and engaged to what I’m saying. If I’m getting you to stir up internal memories, I’ve snuck in.
Think Television, Then Break It
We are a world of TV viewers. We are used to screens. Think HARD about this when planning your presentation. First, think about slides. Slides are PART of your TV screen. Know who the other part is? YOU. Now, if you and your slides are the presentation, which is more interesting? A big glowing screen? Or you hiding behind the podium.
Use Your Body
Learn how to move. First, don’t fidget. Second, step away from the podium (unless it’s a HUGE room and the mic is glued to the podium). Get around and move. Get CLOSER to your audience. BLEND for a moment with them. You’ve been to rock concerts. Crowds go CRAZY for contact with the star. And, uh, you’re the star, bub!
A Word About Slides
Never ever EVER use pre-built slide formats. Just don’t. Know why? Because they all look THE SAME. Don’t make my eyes bleed. Don’t make me sleep. Next point: bullets are for guns. Be creative. Think about it this way: if this were a TV commercial, would YOU watch? Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth is basically a slide show with Al talking and some dramatic music. Think that way and work backwards.
In format, don’t do title, agenda, name, payload, contact me. Know why? Because EVERYONE does that. Try mixing it up. Just a little. Think TV and all the various formats.
SUPER SECRET TIP: Find lots of great photos on Flickr (use advanced search to select Creative Commons photos, and add a slide near the end of your slideshow giving people attribution for their work).
Your Voice is Important
If you speak in a monotone voice with no stops and go on and on and use ums to cover the spaces where you don’t know what you’re going to say next, people will fall asleep almost immediately, and then the best you can hope is that they dream that you did a good job.
WAKE people UP! Be loud. Be soft. Use your voice with as much energy as a radio announcer or your favorite entertainment personality. Think on this. Practice it. Use shorter sentences. (Notice I do this when I blog?) And try hard to mix up HOW you’re talking about things. Ask questions. Make statements. Pause for breath. Kill “ums.”
Finish With Idea Handles
ALWAYS end a presentation with things people can run off and do. Verbs. Give people ways they can take your ideas, and use them. Giving ideas handles means letting people pick up your idea, take it home with them, and incorporate it into what they’re doing and thinking. It makes the whole time you’ve taken from everyone worth it.
And make sure folks know how to reach you, okay?
Does this work for you? Do you want more ideas like this?
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Photo credit framesmedia/dan
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