Sunday, December 17, 2006

On Performing Your Presentation

Richard Quest, one of CNNs most popular anchors shares what he would say to a group of business people hoping to improve their presentation skills. I am a presentations coach and support these tips for both the business professional who needs to make presentations for their career/job as well as the paid professional speaker who speaks for their living.

• It's a performance. Like it or not, he said, if you are giving a speech or a presentation, you are performing. Of course, people like Richard are at an advantage compared to the rest of us, he admitted, since he does this for a living. Still, it is useful for all presenters to remember that they are, for that moment when they have the floor at least, performers.

• You've got to grab 'em by the grapes...
Richard was adamant, animated, and colorful about this tip. Forget the thank yous and small talk at the beginning, you can work that in later he said. At the start you immediately have to grab them and bring them in. Many people he said start their presentations off weakly, meekly. Open with a bang and remember to end your talk by tying the big finish back in with that dynamic opening. (The Coach sez . . . begin with a question, short story, some humor or a startling statement.)

• Engage your audience. Ask questions, look them in the eye, get them involved. (The Coach sez . . . provide interactive exercises – this increases the audience retention.)

• Slow down, you are in control. This is your show, your stage. Use your voice to emphasize certain crucial points. Don't just rush through talking points, etc.

• Pay close attention to your audience. Have some empathy for your audience. If they are not getting it or if it becomes clear that you have prepared too much or the wrong material, then switch gears, cut it short, whatever the situation calls for. Good presenters can read the nonverbal cues and act accordingly.

• Tell stories, give plenty of examples. You don't have to make 14 points. Make a single big point. Most people try to include too much information not too little. (The Coach sez. . . it’s OK to make as many as 3-4 points, supported by your stories.)

Coach Sandra Schrift 2006


At 1:34 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Sandra, I think that the performance aspect of public speaking is one of the hardest for my clients to grasp. There are also conflicting opinions on this amongst speakers.

The truth is that our audiences want to be entertained - regardless of how dry the subject matter. And I don't blame them, because I want to be entertained, too!

If it's not a performance, the speaker might just as well walk up on stage and start talking about whatever occurs to her/him at that moment. Some people are pretty good at that, but it's a big risk!

Performing has a built-in safety net involving preparation and practice.


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