Are your presentations advancing your career? Here are 7 presentation skills to make you speak like a boss . . . that he or she will notice!
Consider any upcoming presentations you'll be giving on behalf of your company or organization. The simple and welcome truth is, your boss wants you to succeed as much as you desire that outcome yourself!
If he or she is sitting in the audience, that's even more true.
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Two recent experiences reminded me of this link between what you're looking to achieve in a presentation, and what your boss is probably expecting. In the first situation, the boss and the staff were on the same page. The second scenario was more problematic.
Public Speaking Training for Effective Presentations
If your boss has arranged to train you as part of a group, you'll most likely be on solid ground concerning what he or she is expecting. That was the case recently when I trained a team of negotiators for a leading HMO.
Some of these executives were experienced presenters, and some weren't. The VP who hired me was clear with me and the team: she wanted them to know "how it's done" in terms of effective presentations. So the training was straightforward: equal parts spent on the rules for successful business presentations, and on how to be a dynamic speaker.
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Are You Giving Effective Business Presentations?
In the other scenario, my client was really shooting in the dark. He was a new hire who had been wooed away from a very successful consultancy to join an emerging department in a real estate development company.
We worked for weeks to get him ready for his presentation: his debut in front of the entire staff of his new company. He ended up being blindsided, however. His new boss didn't look pleased during his talk. In fact, he took him aside afterwards and told him he didn't come across with the level of credibility and connection with the audience that the boss was looking for.
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I believe the point of these two stories is that, sometimes your boss will be adept at explaining what he or she is looking for; and other times, he or she won't be. Equally important, your boss may not consciously realize what they're expecting from you in your internal or external presentations, though they probably unconsciously understand what those things are.
So you may have to do some heavy lifting. Below are seven key "necessary's" to check off in your on-the-job appearances. (Bosses, you should definitely be paying attention here, too!)
7 Ways to Succeed with an Audience
1. Achieve Rapport with Listeners.
You always have the challenge of quickly opening up the channels of communication between you and your listeners. Audiences make judgments about you very quickly, so here's how to begin a presentation successfully within 60 seconds. Also, spend much less time preparing your content, and much more time getting comfortable talking to groups and leading them.
2. Engage Public Speaking Audiences Immediately.
Listeners need to know at once that you're an interesting speaker and not an anesthetist. Avoid openings that simply announce your topic, and the deadly "Today I've been asked to speak about . . ." gambit. Instead, hook your audience from your first words. Do this in two ways: 1) Give them something they weren't quite expecting, and 2) Show them you're bold enough to show some originality.
3. Nail Your Credibility for Public Speaking.
What's your expertise on this topic? That, and "What's in it for me?" are every audience's key questions. Answer both questions early. If you're presenting to colleagues, clue them in that you have something important to say today. Otherwise, why should anybody listen? (Here's another hint: Give your full name and job title or other credential if you're speaking to strangers. "Hi, I'm Marty!" does nothing for credibility.)
4. You Need to Display Confidence when Speaking in Public.
Your boss really needs you to come through here. A few years ago, a member of a large law firm came to me for coaching because the firm had lost out on being hired for a big case. The reason: this lawyer had been visibly nervous as the lead presenter with the firm's pitch. Nerves may show, especially when the boss is in the room. If you can't demonstrate complete confidence, work with a speech coach who will either engender that confidence in you or show you how to make your anxiety invisible.
5. Show that You Can Speak for Leadership.
Here's where you move up from the minors into the majors. Face it: your product or service isn't too different from your competitors'. Clients, customers, and colleagues may want to work with you for many reasons, but these two are usually among them: they feel they have a relationship with you, and you're in complete command when you explain the things they need to know.
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6. Prove You Can Think on Your Feet.
With enough preparation and practice, anybody can give a pretty good presentation. But what happens when unexpected questions, objections, and resistance arise? For instance, I call Q &A "The Forgotten Avenue of Audience Persuasion." Everyone, your boss included, understands that you can't know what's coming your way once the questions start. Your boss wants you to demonstrate that you can handle push-back and think on your feet.
7. Plan to Move Your Audience to Action!
No one understands a "cut-to-the-chase" mentality so much as a boss or someone else in a position of authority. A speech or presentation is a fast-closing window of opportunity, and you must achieve something lasting not only during your talk but after it's over. So don't think in terms of delivering content, but of activating listeners. What will lead them to take the action you want tomorrow, next week, or six months from now? To get that to happen, get my Free resource, "How to Be a Clear, Concise, and Compelling Speaker."
Now, go get 'em!
This blog was previously published in 2016. It is updated here.
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Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking training and overcoming speaking fear. His company, Boston-based The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom executive coaching and corporate group training worldwide. In 2020 for the seventh consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of The World's Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of the Amazon Best-Seller How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speaking, was named in 2019 as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." His latest book is The Online Meetings Handbook, now available at The Genard Method and at Amazon. To know more about TGM's services, Contact Gary here.