If you are a leader, you present ideas, projects, and plans to groups. Given that, presentation skills are a key skill for leaders at all levels – and for many other professionals too. That’s why so much is written and so much advice floats around about this topic. Unfortunately, some of that advice is not helpful or just wrong (“imagine them all in their underwear”). I have five profound truths about public speaking that will change your perspective and approach to your next presentation.
Think about each and the implications for how you communicate with a group – and if they surprise you, think a bit harder.
It isn’t public speaking; it is communicating with a group. I know, people call it “public speaking” or “giving a presentation,” but it isn’t either of those things. It is still communicating, just with a group. When we remember that it isn’t about the speech, but about getting our message across it clears up some of the angst that comes with this activity. Remember that you have a message you are trying to share with others. Don’t overcomplicate it by overthinking it or making it into something that it isn’t.
It’s not about you. One of the big problems about framing your task as a speech or presentation is that you start thinking you have to be perfect and that people are watching, evaluating and judging your every move. Yes, how you look and what you say is important – but the message itself and successfully delivering it to the group is the most important thing. Repeat after me: It isn’t about you – it is about the message and the audience. Once you learn to put your focus there, not only will you reduce your nerves, but you will allow yourself to show through, be less self-conscious, far more natural – and more successful.
Stories are for impact, not laughs. – and they aren’t really optional. As humans we make sense of the world through stories – and they can be incredibly memorable too. When communicating with a group you want to take advantage of those facts. Remember that stories that are simple can be powerful – Goldilocks and her bears isn’t a complicated story. Don’t try to tell a funny story (which can be extremely hard to do anyway) – tell a story that makes one of your key points – that carries your message past the ears and all the way to the heart of your listener.
The close is important, and you are doing it wrong. You are communicating a message to a group and you want them to decide, plan, or be influenced to take some action. The way that you close has a huge effect on the impact on those outcomes. You lose all the power, all the momentum and all the impact by closing with “Any questions?”. Yes, in almost every situation you want to ask for questions and input, but your close is meant to lock in your points and cement the next steps you want your audience to take.
Super preparation is magic. You might be nervous before giving some presentations – if you are give yourself a break you aren’t the only one who has ever felt that way. One of the best ways to overcome nerves and create positive momentum in your talk is to “nail” the beginning. In general, the better prepared you are the more effective your presentation will be and the less nerves will be a problem. But if you will “super prepare” the first 2-5 minutes of the talk, so that you know that will go well – you will get off to a great start for the benefit of the audience, and yourself.
Apply these ideas the next time you are asked to present – you will feel better and more importantly you will get better results.
The wise leaders who are members of The Remarkable Way will spend the entire month of August improving their ability to present powerfully – to craft and deliver messages that reach and impact their audiences. There is still time to join them! Want to learn more? Go here now!