Here are the 7 Golden Rules of public speaking to ensure a tight delivery in any situation.
1. Plan and practice your talk before you go near PowerPoint
PowerPoint is a presentation killer. The reason it kills so many speeches is that people don’t use it correctly. Slides are intended to be used as a support tool for the presenter, not as the main act.
To use your slide deck as a support tool it is important that you plan and practice your talk before you create your slides. If you have planned and practiced your speech, it is much easier to create slides that support what you will say.
2. Open with a hook
Opening your speech with a “Good morning, thank you for coming” is pleasant enough, but really, really boring.
When you open your presentation you want your audience to be sitting forward and eager to hear what you have to say.
You do this by using a hook.
Instead of the regular greetings and thanks for being here, try something different. Startle the audience with a question. Empathize with an issue they are having. Connect with your audience by explaining you’re experiencing the same problems as them.
“How many times have you thought xyz process is a waste of your time?” is a far better opener than “Good morning.”
3. Push to the audience to overcome stage fright
To alleviate nerves turn the spotlight away from yourself and shine it on your audience.
When you are delivering a presentation it is normal to feel under pressure. To feel like you are being evaluated by the audience. If you turn the light on the audience you give yourself time to breath, collect your thoughts, and reduce anxiety.
Push to the audience by asking them a question. For example, “What’s your number one issue with process xyz?”
4. Use natural visual communication
The only thing worse than no gestures and stiff body language is practiced gestures and exaggerated body language.
To connect with an audience you need to talk to them the same as you would a colleague or friend standing next to you. Speak naturally and communicate with your body language naturally.
When you are describing or explaining something to a friend you never have to think about your body position or gestures. It should be the same in your presentation.
5. Make the audience comfortable
I was in a presentation the other day which was a huge success. Not because the topic was exciting or engaging. Actually the topic was bad news. Negative company policy changes.
The presentation was a success because the presenter reiterated over and over how he was doing his best to keep the policy changes from adversely affecting the audience. The audience responded well as a result.
6. If you make a mistake or forget something, just move on
Mistakes don’t spell disaster.
Mistakes are part of life.
Making mistakes is an inevitable part of delivering a presentation.
When you make a mistake or forget something most times you are the only person that knows. So, try to avoid drawing attention to the error and just move on to the next point. If you made an obvious error, laugh it off or apologize and just move on.
7. You are the center of the presentation, not your slides
The audience are not there to see how many bullet points you can fit on each slide. Nor are they there to see what chapter you’re up to in Presentation Zen.
The audience are there to listen to you. To hear what you have to say. As such, don’t let the slides drive your presentation. Make sure you are in the driver’s seat.
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