My name is Gary.
You look like the kind of girl I would like to date.
I’d like to buy you a drink and talk about three things: my dating history, what I’m looking for in a partner, and where we can go for our first date.
Unless you have any questions I’m going to order a martini for you and let’s get down to business.
How long will it be before Gary wears the martini?
Gary’s “small talk” sounds crazy. Funny, because it’s exactly how most of us do presentations in the office.
Even funnier, we do presentations like this and expect our co-workers to listen to us, to be persuaded by us.
We do this stuff and then after our presentations we wonder why everyone was so disengaged. Why no one congratulated us on our fine results. Why everyone ran for the door as soon as it was over.
Public speaking is like dating.
If you want your audience to listen, appreciate, and respond, you need to focus on more than just yourself, logic, and getting to the end of your speech.
You need to focus on talking “with” them.
When you focus on talking “with” your audience they are more likely to pay attention, more likely to ask questions, more likely to act on your recommendations.
Here are 3 things you can do to talk “with” your audience:
If you read your script word-for-word you will sound like a robot.
No one wants to listen to a robot. That’s why no one has robot friends.
When you talk to your audience, talk naturally and conversationally.
When you talk with a conversational tone you’ll be amazed how many more people willingly listen to you.
How: You will sound more conversational if you know your topic very well and don’t have a script that you’ve memorized. Here is how you can remember what to say and keep it conversational.
People switch off quickly when a conversation becomes one-sided. A traditional presentation is a one-sided affair.
If you spend time asking your audience relevant questions and relating your presentation to their needs you will get, and keep, their attention.
How: Before commencing a discussion ask a question to set the context. “Why do think our turnover is so high?… That’s right, and in my presentation I will show you how we’re going to address that very issue.”
It’s tempting to watch a TED talk and try and emulate the speaker. Maybe you saw a colleague do a great presentation and you want to copy their style.
Don’t do it!
If you try to copy someone else you end up acting. It feels disingenuous and turns the audience off.
Be yourself and your audience will react positively to your natural, conversational tone.
How: Don’t try to mimic others.
Do you think Gary would do better?
Next time Gary sees a Ms. Right he would do well to use these 3 tips.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.