“There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars”
Even seasoned presenters find it challenging to prepare and deliver outstanding presentations every time. As Ralph Nader, the American political activist, author, lecturer & lawyer said, “Your best teacher is your last mistake”.
We asked Juliette Ash, coach & trainer at MaST International to summarise her top tips for when preparing your next presentation.
- Ask the audience a question, rhetorical or otherwise
If you can move your presentation away from being a ‘tell style download’ to a conversation with useful supplementary facts you are much more likely to have an engaged and grateful audience.
- Tell relevant stories
Communication experts agree universally about the power of stories to engage, motivate and inspire us. Given that we spend most of our first eighteen years learning in this way, it is logical that stories continue to have the power to inform. I have never met an audience member that has not responded positively to the words – “let me tell you a story…” and it is often the most compelling way to evoke action from adults.
- Use audience names and refer to their experiences as you speak
Everyone feels the grate that inaccuracies regarding your circumstances can create, for example, a badly pronounced name or cringe-worthy mention of a competitor. However, the bland use of generalist language and circumstances can be equally off-putting. Using names and actual circumstances builds trust and respect, such as saying “So as Sarah was saying…”
- Use a structure that is tailored for the audience
A beginning, middle and end; tell the audience what you are going to talk to them about, talk to them, and tell them what you talked about, is a good generic starting point. However our modern attention spans demand the more nuanced approach of ‘what are you expecting me to do or think?, ‘what are the rough points you are going to go through?’, ‘what is the aim of our time together?’ Always start with an engaging statistic, fact, quote or visual to gain their attention and help the audience connect and illustrate your core point or key message.
Whilst preparation is key, and over 75% of the work is completed beforehand, the final section matters. Start by saying “I will only live this day of my life once, succeed or fail I am going to enjoy this”. One key enabler is to arrive early (tech set up always takes more time than planned!), so that you can be ready, cup of tea or water in hand, to ensure that you can to talk to audience members as they arrive. This will benefit you with a vocal warm up which is a natural solution for nerves and a last minute anecdote gathering opportunity, all of which help communicate “CONFIDENT” when you seamlessly move in to place and start.