Want your important pitches, remarks, and speeches to resonate with stakeholders? Here's how to make every presentation fresh and original.
How many presentations do you think are given every day around the world?
My estimate is ten gazillion, give or take a dozen. Seriously, the folks over at Microsoft think the number is 30 million daily around the globe. But that's just PowerPoint presentations. And they immediately apologize saying that the figure is probably old.
Do you think any of them might be a little creaky?
Make-or-break presentation coming up? Get ready to excel! Grab my Free ebook, High-Impact Speaking: The Leader's Guide to Presenting With Integrity and Influence.
And anyway, how is anyone going to remember your presentation so that it stands out from the rest? It's definitely not going to happen if what you give audiences is a vocal rehash of what they're looking at on slides and spreadsheets.
Your job as speaker is to literally give life to your content! You're the living, breathing influencer who can react with listeners the way no data can. And believe me, that's why the audience is willing to sit and listen to you. That connection, the sharing of this important topic, is what the speaking situation is all about. Below are three ways to take your audience on such a journey, the one they're hoping for.
Learn more about creating influence with business audiences! Download my Free eGuide, "4 Characteristics of an Influential Speaker."
Discover the World of Your Audience, and Live There
Some years ago, I conducted a two-day workshop in New York for the diplomatic staff of one of the Permanent Missions to the United Nations. At the close of the training, this country's Deputy Chief Ambassador thanked me for working with his diplomats. Then he said something that I will always remember: "We now understand that the world of public speaking is a sea of influence, and we have waded in it only up to our knees."
What this eloquent gentleman was saying, is that it is the way you change your listeners that matters. To do that, you must make your best effort to understand who they are. It's essential, then, to analyze your audience to try to discover "where they live": their needs, expectations, preferences, as well as the world they occupy. Then you must shape your content and message so you live in that world as much as possible. Do that, and your speech may sound radically different—and more on point than anything they've heard in a long while. Maybe ever.
Want to be a compelling and persuasive speaker? Go beyond just delivering information! Get my Free resource, "How To Be a Clear, Concise, and Compelling Speaker."
See Things From a Fresh Perspective
If your message is important, your presentation has to be memorable. It's as simple and challenging as that. So why would you want to give listeners a talk that's exactly like all the others in your field? Another way to say this is: for your ideas to stand out, you must stand out. Here are some ways to make that happen.
- Think about how this topic has been dealt with in the past. Why did previous speakers handle it that way? What advantages or disadvantages did those approaches have? Can you go with something different instead?
- Try "suspending your expertise" in your business or field of knowledge. Imagine that you're new to all of it, i.e., look at the problem from a neophyte's point of view. Issues which were too close and familiar for you to see, may come sharply into focus for the first time.
- Can you shake up your audience's notion that they can be passive observers? Ask questions . . . and expect answers. If you're addressing a large audience where that isn't possible, still ask those penetrating questions. The responses within listeners' minds will be just as valuable in terms of what you're saying hitting home with them.
- Consider every obstacle—technological, physical, or emotional—that usually comes between speaker and audience in this type of talk. Lecterns, seating arrangements, and a failure to establish common ground are usual suspects. What can you either eliminate or include for the first time to overcome such hindrances?
Speaking of obstacles, how are you on dealing with challenges? Stay credible and believable! Get my Essential Cheat Sheet, "7 Tips for Overcoming Audience Resistance."
Be Ready to Mix It Up, in Real Time
Finally, don't prepare so painstakingly that you forget that your job is to get in there and mix it up with your audience. I'm thinking specifically of speakers who are so uncertain of their abilities, or so aware of the importance of the speech, that they prepare so nothing can go wrong. Which means, of course, that everything will go wrong.
What these well-meaning (and scared) presenters do is to construct a beautiful house of cards offstage. Then they trot it out, placing it carefully center-stage. You know what happens, don't you? The winds of tough questions, push-back, and challenge start to blow, and the exquisite-and-fragile construction of the presentation falls apart.
The art of having presence as a speaker means, well, being present. Whoever you are and however much you know, you almost certainly spend too much time on your preparation, and not enough mental energy and practice being comfortable and dynamic in front of audiences. That's why real-time presentations are more exciting than recorded ones.
Accept that your talk won't go exactly as planned. Good thing, too! Issues will arise, and opinions will be heard, for the first time. What a wonderful opportunity you have now to respond. Believe me, this bout will showcase your knowledge and ability far more effectively than a canned presentation. It might just be the freshest and most original 10 or 12 rounds your audience has ever encountered.
SPEAK TO BE HEARD — 101 Powerful Speaking Tips! Click on the image below.
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 2021 for the eighth 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.