Need to get the word out through your business team presentations? Here's a corporate training program to boost the speaking skills of your key employees!
Let's say you're a manager, VP of HR, or Chief Learning Officer in your company. That means you're overseeing a team or teams. Naturally, you want your teams to have a powerful impact on customers, clients, prospects, and the rest of the organization. And if that's the case, you'd better pay attention to creating great business presentations.
That is, your team may have outstanding content knowledge. But when it comes to influencing stakeholders inside or outside your company, the proof is often in the performance.
Does your team use PowerPoint? If so, this is the perfect time to go beyond dull slides and lackluster skills! Ready to tell your story effectively through slides? To learn helpful design tips? To use PowerPoint's 'secret weapon' for more dynamic presentations? If you are, you should download my free cheat sheet, "5 Rules for Succeeding with PowerPoint.".
Here are three ways to strengthen the bond between Individual excellence and a team-based approach to create maximum impact.
What's Your Team's Biggest Challenge?
First, you and your team need to get your heads in the right place. I recently conducted a group training in the healthcare sector where the above question announced itself very early as the gorilla in the room.
Actually, I posed the question. The team I was working with was rolling out a huge new initiative that would soon need to be embraced by the entire company. A PowerPoint deck had been created that everyone on the team would speak to—with each team member discussing his or her area of specialty. And that, I thought, was part of the problem.
The slide deck itself wasn't the issue. The sticking point was everyone's tendency to look at and relate to the slides much more intimately than they would with their listeners. In other words, it was a "comfort zone" problem. So I asked the question about the team's greatest challenge to zero in on what the team wanted to get across apart from the slides. That would allow them to identify the obstacles they faced in getting through to their audiences.
PowerPoint is a tool you use as a speaker to help convey your message—it can never become the message itself. So what I was really saying was: "Make the connection. Learn how to energize your PowerPoint presentations, so you give audiences what your slides can't. You're here to say something important: so say it, you. You'll get your ideas across far more powerfully while charging your batteries and your audience's."
Why Your Team Members Should Ignore the Camera (or Notes or Themselves)
I've been an actor and speech coach for many years, but I'm often still amazed at how dramatically a presenter can boost her ability to reach and move listeners. Becoming comfortable in the performance dynamic is the key. Here are some acting secrets to great business presentations.
To get your team members to a great performance, you must always be on the lookout for their desire to stay in the safe space of their subject matter expertise. There's a reason many business presentations sound like the speaker is reading (either literally or as he retrieves information in his head). And there's always a tinge of "Everyone's looking at me, so I'd better be at my best."
So when I'm coaching a team, I might say something like, "How much do you think we need to hear this? Is it important at all?" And that usually kicks in awareness on the speaker's part that it's all sounding rote, as if the information were more important than the people in the seats. So get your team to ignore the imaginary camera. Your team member will become softer and more powerful (yes, at the same time), as he or she gets down to the business of actually talking to listeners rather than at them.
Breathing, Body Language, and Boldness: A Trifecta!
Nearly always, a rigid focus on subject matter and information delivery leaves your team member physically tight. When rapport doesn't flow between speaker and audience, a presenter feels isolated and in the spotlight. What follows this feeling of exposure and vulnerability is a need to stay vigilant and on the defensive.
Watch for indications that your speaker is inhibited in both her breathing and movements. Does she know the secrets of powerful body language, or does she use body language that will help sink a presentation? You'll spot the signs immediately once you're looking for them: a lack of strong gestures; gasping (because speech anxiety makes speakers forget to breathe!); employing the fig-leaf position; crossing legs or being off-balance instead of assuming a grounded stance; fidgeting; lack of eye contact, etc. Viewed from a physical perspective, the presentation begins to appear apologetic.
Your new vision the team is talking about needs BOLDNESS, doesn't it? Believe it or not, you can get there fairly quickly with most people if you work with them encouragingly and a bit slowly. Get the person to try diaphragmatic breathing. Show them how to use grounding to look and feel more confident. Above all, invite them to "just talk" to us as interested listeners.
The approach outlined above is a marvelous method to quickly and reliably improve your team's business presentations. Remember, a great team presentation is like a string of pearls: Each individual piece is complete and beautiful, and the finished product is incomparable.
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