The Book of Lists
reports the Top Ten Human Fears as:
Speaking before a Group
As Jay Leno quipped, “I guess we’d rather be in the casket
than delivering the eulogy.”
You can learn to be a more comfortable, confident presenter!
Use your Mandel Communications toolkit
to prepare for your presentations. Practice
your presentation from beginning to end several times to build “muscle memory”.
You’ll be more relaxed when you deliver
it for real and your mind will stretch back to find some of those great phrases
you tried out in practice.
Everyone wants to give a “Knock Your Socks Off”
Presentation. The question is how do you do it? Is there a formula that insures
success? There are no magic formulas, but speakers can greatly enhance their
chances of being successful by adhering to the Speaker’s Ten Commandments.
Audience. It is a mistake to wing it. Successful speakers thoroughly
analyze their audience. They know who they are demographically. They use every
resource- the client’s website, their annual reports, news articles, and
personal contacts to learn about the audience’s needs, knowledge level and
attitude. The time a speaker spends on the front end pays off in the long haul.
II.Know Your Goal. Be
clear about what you want to accomplish. Otherwise, you will be unfocused in
your presentation. The likelihood of moving your listeners to take action will
be greatly diminished. A good way to start is to write a one sentence
that addresses listener needs. Listeners only care about their issues and
whether or not you can provide a solution to the things they find vexing. The
content you create should provide the answer to “what’s in it for me.” If the
content seems generic and more of a product dump, listeners will be turned off.
structure to your content. Make it easy for your listeners to follow your
way of thinking by providing a very simple, structured approach to the topic.
Once you determine your plan of attack, stick to your outline. Do not digress.
Open with a strong introduction, follow with a limited number of well-supported
main ideas and wrap up with a detailed call to action.
V.Make your ideas
stand out. People are moved by their heads and their hearts. As you create
content for your listeners, be sure to balance the emotional with the factual.
For sure, people need facts and data to make decisions, but they are also
swayed by stories, examples, analogies and humorous anecdotes. People quickly
forget your words, but they do remember the mental pictures you have created
for them. They buy on emotion and justify with facts.
points with pauses. Too often, speakers throw away their ideas because they
speak too quickly or because they over-connect their ideas with an “and,” a
“but” or a “so.” A lengthy pause allows listeners to keep up and to digest what
you have said in “bite-sized chunks.” A long pause also adds drama and keeps
people alert for your next point.
non-words or filler words. They chip away at credibility. They affect
whether people trust and believe you, whether they see you as confident and
knowledgeable. Don’t sabotage your hard work with “ums” and “ahs.” Instead,
learn to pause where you might have a comma or period.
that clarify difficult concepts. Your visuals should be visual aids for
your listeners, not you. If you can say it better, you do not need a visual. People
get bored easily so mix up your media. Create slides that are a mixture of
charts, graphs, bullet points and pictures. Add focus to your slides by
creating a headline for each one. Never begin with a slide deck and try to
create content around it.
IX.Leave ample time
for questions. People like to feel that all of their issues are answered.
They also feel they can assess your confidence level by how you answer their
questions. Be sure you do your homework upfront and brainstorm all the possible
questions you might be asked.
presentation. It is always a good idea to do some “dry runs” of your
presentation. No one wants you to be memorized, but they also don’t want you to
be “note-dependant.” When you practice your presentation, you should always do
it with the technology that you will be using. If you practice out loud and on
your feet 3-6 times, you will know your presentation and the key points you
want to make.
Being a powerful persuasive communicator should not be left
to chance. Whether you are speaking to a large or small group, you will propel
your communication ability to the next level by faithfully adhering to the
Speaker’s Ten Commandments.
As a member of the Mandel Communications team, I’m fortunate to be the dedicated Moderator/Blogger for the Mandel’s My developerWorks Group.I thought I’d share a few stories with you about people we’ve worked with and how being a more confident, effective presenter changed their lives.
Let’s start with a story about someone I’ll call “Candie”.Yep.Me.Really.
My undergraduate degree was in Math and Master’s in Computer Science.I guess I’ve always been a geek.I was in marching band and the math club in school.I never took a speech class.No way!I was scared to death of speaking in front of people.When I joined Bell Labs as a software engineer I was happy to just sit in front of my computer all day long except for lunchtime when I could talk with the other engineers about Star Trek.
One day my boss made me sign up for a 2-day Presentation Skills class. Yikes!I had to be videotaped speaking in front of a class.It was painful. The trainer gave me candid, caring, clear feedback and helped me build my confidence.The class tapped into something deep inside me and I found I really enjoyed presenting!
I started to take advantage of every opportunity to present.Managers started to notice.It was rare in those days to find someone who was technically competent andenjoyed presenting!Soon I was tapped for more customer-facing assignments and I worked as a Systems Engineer, SE Manager, Briefing Center Manager, Product Manager, Director of Professional Services, Executive Staff Director, and (20 years later…) Director of Strategic Marketing and Sales Support Programs!
And it’s all because of that two-day Presentation Skills class.It unlocked a door for me that changed my career, my earnings potential, and my life.In 2001 I had an opportunity to leave the Bell System and strike out on my own.I was crystal clear about what I wanted to do; change lives by helping others find their “inner presenter”.Just like that trainer/coach had done for me.
So that’s my story and that’s why I joined Mandel Communications.Mandel is committed to helping people look as smart as they are!I love what I do.I get to work with the most interesting people including engineers, salespeople, managers, and executives.We believe we’re changing lives.Maybe yours…..
Sometimes you spend hours and hours getting ready for an important partner or customer presentation.But, in the end, you have just one hour in front of them to make your pitch.And then they’re off to talk with one of your competitors.And maybe another competitor the next day.
It’s like speed dating. That VAR or ISV or reseller may be checking out multiple vendors to partner with or buy from.As with speed dating, they make a decision on who they’re going to spend the next few years with after just an hour or a day with you.
You have to make the right impression in a very short time – both in what you say and how you say it.
That’s when preparation and practice are critical.We recommend using the Mandel Blueprint™ to prepare a listener-focused presentation that concisely and directly speaks to their concerns.It’s important that you’ve prepared a customized message just for them.
It’s equally important that you deliver that message with the confidence that you want them to feel in the IBM brand.
Be sure you “look ‘em in the eye” so that you appear honest, knowledgeable, and competent.Eye contact is critical in establishing trust and credibility.Don’t just dart your eyes around the room like a “sprinkler”.Make 3-5 seconds of eye contact with each person – that’s a phrase, a thought, or a sentence with each person before you move on with your eyes.
And be careful to avoid fidgeting.If you’re having a little “hand party” you’ll look nervous, even if you’re not.It’s a “tell”.Avoid the “spider push-ups”, “hand washing”, “sisters of mercy”, playing with your ring, fist-clenching, hand clasping, etc.Keep those hands apart, make nice big gestures, and bring your arms down to your sides occasionally.Plan in advance for some purposeful gestures that will support your message.
In high stakes presentations, remember, they’re listening both to what you say and how you say it.Especially when your audience is “speed dating”…
“Jed” is an engineering manager at a big tech company.The guys that work for him (yes, they’re all guys) sometimes deliver presentations at technical conferences.You know those presos…..lots of detailed, boring charts that the presenter mostly reads to you.Jed said that there was no need to train the guys on how to deliver more engaging presentations because boring, death-by-powerpoint presentations are the norm at those conferences. That’s what everybody expects.
We worked with Jed to help him imagine the impact his team could have if only they could differentiate themselves from the pack and deliver interesting, engaging, memorable presentations that connected with their audience.
Jed was skeptical but agreed to personally give it a try at his next user’s group conference.
We worked with Jed to help him think strategically about his presentation objectives, analyze his audience, and customize his presentation using the Mandel Blueprint™.We helped him simplify his charts and find interesting stories, examples and analogies to help his audience “get” and remember his key points.We helped Jed prepare and coached his practice.
Jed delivered his presentation at the annual User’s Group conference.And what do you suppose happened?
People came up to him in droves after the presentation wanting to share their own stories, ask questions, get his business card, and stay in touch.
And now we’re working with Jed’s team to transform their presentations internally and externally.
Imagine what a difference a little structured preparation, practice with feedback, and effective delivery could make in your next presentation.