I regularly speak encourage presenters to be “audience-centric”, meaning focusing the goals of the presentation on the audience, align the message of the speech to the audience’s goals, and engaging your audience. Contrary to what most speakers think, presentations aren’t about the speaker, even for bid presentation. One of the best ways to be audience-centric is to know your audience’s learning style. When thinking about learning styles, most people automatically think about school-aged children and how to prepare lesson plans accommodating the combination of different learning styles that a teacher would find in the classroom. However, what happens when those children grow up; do those learning styles just disappear and no longer affect adults? Nope! We need to stop only considering learning styles for children, and it is high time that we begin taking the learning styles of adults into consideration. Adjusting the way you present to accommodate your audience’s learning
Although public speaking shares some characteristics with acting, the two are not the same. Let’s start with the similarities between public speaking and acting: a stage (and stage fright), maybe a microphone or voice projection, eye contact, potentially props, and definitely an audience (however, the audience is there for different reasons). Your days in drama club don’t go to waste if you’re practicing to become a good speaker, but you can’t rest on your laurels if your background exclusively involves the theater because public speaking is not acting. 7 Reasons Why Public Speaking is Not Acting No Director & No Stage Cues – One of the biggest differences is that most speakers are self-directed and do not have someone telling them what to do and where to stand. Even if you’re using a presentation coach like myself, my role is to guide you through preparing for your presentation, not do your
Occasionally I get calls from prospective clients that want to give me a loose idea of what they’re thinking about for a presentation along with a few vague parameters, and they want me to send them a completed PowerPoint slide deck and accompanying script in a few days. I inform them that I don’t write presentations for other speakers, but I will guide them and educate them through the entire presentation preparation process, and here is why. 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Write Presentations for My Clients I’m Not the Subject Matter Expert – Yes, I can interview someone and ghostwrite a presentation, but it is best for the expert to share their own thoughts in the presentation because that is what the audience wants and needs. The expert’s viewpoint and expertise is why audiences attend a presentation, not to hear someone recite something; they can read what someone else wrote.
A client emailed me about one point I wrote in my blog two weeks ago, How to Do Impromptu Presentations Well, asking for more insight. In that blog, I wrote “If you realize that you misspoke about something, take a pause, and correct yourself. Since the presentation is the spur of the moment, no one is expecting anything rehearsed or perfect.” He asked me what to do if you misspoke and the presentation was planned and rehearsed. So I this is what I told him to do if he misspoke ever misspoke during one of his bid presentations. First off, you’re human and making a mistake shows your audience that you’re real and vulnerable. That isn’t something you want to fake, but you don’t need to hide the fact that you’re fallible. Be you, be authentic, and be honest with your audience. If you misspoke during a presentation, try one of these… Correct Yourself
Ever sit in the audience, on the edge of your seat, totally engaged with a speaker? You probably feel that the speaker is talking directly to you, even though you’re in a room with hundreds of other people. The difference between an amateur speaker and an amazing, memorizing presenter is eye contact. Eye contact isn’t hard to master; if you know what aspects of eye contact to refine. Keep in mind that your audience can tell when you’re staring off at the back of the room or staring at their foreheads. The best part about eye contact is that it calms your nerves because you’re no longer speaking to a sea of people. When you make eye contact with your audience, you see them as individuals. Also, when you look at one person, the entire group of people around that person you are locking eyes with thinks you’re looking at
When it comes to presentations, I always preach preparation, but sometimes you can’t prepare. At times, you are put on the spot and you have little to no warning like at a business meeting or the Q&A part of a bid presentation. (Yes, you can brainstorm a list of potential questions a prospective client may ask during a bid presentation. However, you’ll never have a complete list. Good preparation tactic, though!) For the times when you need to do more than answer the question, you need to “own the room” and make an impromptu presentation, how do you do it well? How to Do Impromptu Presentations Well Breathe – Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you can do this well. Great presenters are confident. Self-doubt is “head trash” and doesn’t help you at all. Repeat the Question – The first thing you should do is summarize the request.
I regularly write about presentation best practices, especially when it comes to preparing your presentation. Occasionally I’m asked about the worst tips or advice I’ve heard; this sometimes gets comical like the suggestion to bite your tongue before you go on stage to relieve anxiety. (Seriously, someone told me that one and I fear it will only hurt. Instead, try clenching your first to burn off some of those endorphins your nervous send out to your body.) Usually, these bad tips fall into misconstrued myths and are not really poor advice (let’s hope that is the case). However, I have seen a lot of bad presentations, and usually, it stems from poor preparation, so I thought I’d share the worst ways to prepare for a presentation. 3 Absolute Worst Ways to Prepare for a Presentation Start By “Bulleting Out” a Presentation in PowerPoint – No, I don’t hate PowerPoint (I do
Last week, my husband attended a conference. When he got home, we discussed the conference including what he learned, who he met, and he spoke about the presenters he saw. My husband described an exciting up-and-coming keynote speaker that kicked off the conference, numerous amateur presenters that did well in breakout sessions and roundtable formats, and a very experienced keynote speaker that left much to be desired. My husband said he sat near the front of the stage and could see that most of the audience was engaged for the first 15 minutes, then nearly all of them were lost. Afterward, many conference attendees stated their disappointment including that the presentation started well, then got boring, but the speaker was so “polished”. So how did this experienced presenter lose the audience? I call it “Spiderwebbing”. In short, the presenter bounced around between topics and subtopics, confusing his audience. Instead of leading
Many new presenters shy away from speaking because they are nervous presenting and it may bore them. You have to learn how to overcome your fears and how to have fun presenting. Luckily, you can overcome the fear of public speaking and actually have fun presenting with the same three steps. 3 Ways to Have Fun Presenting Outline Your Presentation – Many beginner speakers make the mistake of scripting out their presentation and tediously review every word with excruciating detail. When presenting, trying to remember that perfect phrasing and word choice makes speakers more nervous and causes them to make more mistakes. Instead, determine your goals, brainstorm your ideas, and create an outline of your presentation. Know that your word selection will vary and improve each time you practice your presentation. Having an outline will free yourself from worrying about what you plan to say and allow you interact with your audience instead
When I present, I usually talk about speaking best practices and ways to improve your presentation skills, so a question I get from time to time is, “What is the biggest mistake presenters make?” If you read my blog often, you’d probably guess that I’d say the biggest presenter mistake is speaking over the audience’s head. Yes, simplifying your technical message is a major component of engaging your audience and winning work from your presentations. (Hence why I named my company Speak Simple.) Most presenters skip a bigger step, one that will help them realize what aspects of their presentation that could use improvement. This often missed step is not debriefing each presentation. Yes, not debriefing is the biggest mistake presenters make regardless of the presenter’s skill level. From beginner to experienced keynote presenters, most speakers skip this important step (or don’t even know it is a step). The reason