Here is a question for you: if you heard yourself speaking on the radio would you stay listening or flip to the next channel? Here’s another one: When you look at your slide deck does it excite you or fill you with regret?
These are some tough questions that you need to answer especially as Spring Conference season is here and the audiences are on their way! If you have a presentation to give over the next few weeks, check out these four essential guidelines to either add to your success or at least stop you from being “evaluation score” condemned by an audience!!
Nobody will ever come up to you after your presentation and say, “I wish you had gone on for longer”. No matter the level, intellect or industry – all audiences have “other things to do”, so your presentation should never take their time without very good reason. Every minute that audience gives to you, you need to make worthwhile. All too often, I see people delivering a speech across 40 minutes that only needed 20. So, be honest with yourself and with your audience – with only 20 minutes worth of truly valuable insight and content, you should only take 20 minutes of people’s time! If you really want to win on timing – end it early. When an audience has an expectation of, say 30 minutes and you end after, say 25 minutes, it’s seen as a great and unexpected ‘gift of time’!!
LIFE by Powerpoint:
We’ve all heard the phrase “Death by Powerpoint”, and most of us have suffered its effects. This happens for only one reason “WORDS ON A SLIDE”. It’s just like “SNAKES ON A PLANE” – They are unwelcome, inadvisable and can lead to an early death!! Too many people use their powerpoint slide deck as a script. it is NOT a script, it should simply be an illustration of your ideas. Show graphics, charts, images, screengrabs and infograms. The second you start showing paragraphs of words two important things happen: Your audience starts to reading and, as a result, stop listening! If you want to give them words to read, simply present them with a handout and sit yourself down! Use PowerPoint or keynote or prezi as simply an illustration of your wonderful message.
Pace down/Punch up:
When I used to host TV shows in the UK, I was trained to speak in a certain style. I was told that an On-Air voice should sound interesting, passionate and compelling. The reason? Well, if you sounded like you were interested in what was being discussed, hopefully the viewers would be convinced and stay on your channel. The same is fundamentally true in your presentation. Do you SOUND interesting? Forget the content for a second – what is your tone like? Does your voice have a rhythm and melody that, when heard, is both easy and compelling? Are you speaking too fast (Clue: yes) – slow down and give yourself time to articulate! The best way to test yourself out is to record yourself on any audio device discussing your topic. Listen back to it (yeah, I know, it’s not easy). Would you want to listen to yourself?? If not, add some animation – some punch – to your voice and win over that audience!!
Provide “Write-down” facts for your audience. Here’s the rule – if you think that your fact, the thing you are going to talk about is interesting enough for members of your audience to write down and take away with them – keep it in!! If not, you may need to seriously consider brutally hacking it off the presentation all together. The rule is this: You have to either entertain or inform an audience – if you are doing neither – you may need to call a taxi!
It has been shown over and over again that those people who can command an audience always rise quickly to the top – make sure that person is you!!