Want to be a speaker who stands out, in person or in virtual meetings? Here are 5 powerful ways to motivate and inspire your audience.
If your message matters, your presentation has to be memorable—whether you're speaking in person or online.
It’s as simple as that. And as challenging.
Yet how many of us business executives, salespeople, social service providers, lecturers, and all of our professional roles meet the burden of engaging and inspiring our audience?
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Think Different? For Effective Speaking, Be Different!
The truth, of course, is that most speeches and presentations are exactly like all the others in that field. Speakers feel safe that way. Unfortunately, such presentations condemn audiences to Presentation Purgatory—where PowerPoint is the preferred instrument of torture and time stretches on to the crack of doom. (And where there's no way to Zoom to safety!)
Please don't send audiences there.
How to Be an Original Public Speaker
If you have an important message (and if you don’t, why are you giving this presentation?), you must find a way to make your vital points stick in the minds of listeners. Another way to say this is: For your ideas to stand out, you must stand out. Don’t be afraid to make a splash, to be different! Whether in advocacy, sales, or motivational speaking, breaking away from the pack can be a tremendously helpful leadership skill.
And consider whether your voice has the sound of leadership! Download my Free Tips and Tricks Guide, "The Voice of Authority: How to Sound Like a Leader."
As the first steps along the road to inspiring listeners, below are 5 effective ways to be a more original speaker. I've developed these suggestions over many years as an actor and speech coach. Try any of them the next time you're slated for a speech or presentation where you want to make an impression. (Note: you don't necessarily have to include all of them in the same presentation!)
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- Consider a different approach. Think about how this topic has been presented in the past. Why did previous speakers handle it that way? What advantages or disadvantages did those approaches have? If a previous approach wasn't particularly successful, can you try something different instead? How can you be an original presenter who taps into the particular strengths of public speaking?
- Try “suspending your expertise.” Imagine that you’re brand new to your business or field. Look at the problem from a neophyte’s point of view. Issues which were too close and familiar for you to see clearly may come sharply into focus for the first time.
- Elicit audience responses. Come up with ways for listeners or online meetings participants to respond. It doesn't matter if it's dead air or the dead vacuum of cyberspace—it's still something you don't want to make the audience experience. If this is a revolutionary concept for you . . . revolt! Right now in particular, there are millions of fellow professionals out there who would like nothing better than to do something different in a Zoom meeting.
- Live in your audience's world. Here's an opportunity to change your entire mindset concerning how to be an effective speaker. All of us are guilty of being "speaker-centric," i.e., thinking about ourselves and our performance. But everything you say, and the way you choose to say it, should be about your listeners. What interests them and turns them on? What needs do they have that you can fulfill? How can your approach, and the language you use, be specifically designed to reach and move them?
- Choose humanity over data. Presenters who focus solely on delivering data make two mistakes. First, they allow themselves to be subsumed by the data, diminishing their importance. And second, they forget the human-to-human connection. When you actually talk to listeners, whether it's in person or online, they hear it. Suddenly, both your intention and the shared characteristics of the activity become much clearer. If thinking like this makes you tell stories incorporating the data instead of just turning on the fire hose, then (literally), more power to you.
This article was previously published. 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 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 How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speaking, was recently named as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." Contact Gary here.