Giving a good presentation requires part science, part art, and all about you. The secret to effective presentations and great public speaking has been known since ancient times. Aristotle identified three elements of excellence in presentation skills that will improve your presentations. According to him, the art of rhetoric requires attention to the speaker, subject, and audience.
One. Speaker: Know Yourself
How do you impact others? Who we are, what we do, and how we do it matters. Today’s leaders are authentic. This means you are in luck, if you pay attention. Presenters all have quirks, strengths, and make mistakes. Audiences love a public speaker that exudes their own brand of personal power.
How do we get enough personal power to connect with others? Many people have failed by copying other public speakers. Instead, we invite excellence and power by being authentic. Today’s leaders are vulnerable. They show empathy, which requires you to be in touch with others, allow yourself to feel what they are experiencing, and demonstrate this understanding with body language and chose of words.
Genuine quirks and strengths help us be memorable, likable, and believable. Bottom line, audiences love a speaker who is fun, has integrity, is trustworthy, courageous, and kind.
- What’s your superpower? Are you funny, Do you have a great sense of timing, musical talent, or storytelling prowess?
- What’s different about you? Are you a super curvy, tall, hairless Cuban? If you are
- What’s your kryptonite? Do you butcher jokes? Are you fidgety, clumsy, with a loud cackle laugh? Make that work for you! Are you allergic to technology? Give a low-tech presentation. Put your apparent weaknesses and challenges to work as loveable assets.
Two. The Subject: Know Your Key Points
You create a good presentation, polish your speaking skills, cerate professional-level PowerPoint slides as visual aids. This is not enough. No audience can really connect without feeling your genuine passion for the subject matter and them.
To showcase your knowledge of the subject matter of your presentation, you must be an expert in your topic and demonstrate this experience in how you speak to the audience, ask them questions to ponder, and most importantly, in how you listen. Knowing your subject matter is about listening to the audience before, during, and after your presentation.
Research begins online. Check out their website, looking for values, mission statements, projects, organizational culture, and what they think is important for you to know on their website. Read articles and blog links on their website and social media sites. Understand the program’s requirements. Check out last year’s presenters, this year’s agenda and leaders. Identify strengths and challenges
Three. The Audience: Know Your Audience
Who is your audience? What’s the theme of their meeting? What do they need to know and learn? What topic has the meeting professional asked you to address? Foundations for greatness as a speaker come from your ability to “…Appear, Speak, and Act as the most Common Man.” Persian Poet, Sufi Master Hafiz said it best. This can only be accomplished by really knowing your audience.
Prepare the audience and yourself by chatting up some individual and small groupings of attendees just before the presentation. Greet them as they enter the venue, find their seats, and settle in with colleagues near them.
Each audience needs meaning. Otherwise, they are just stuck in a venue with you, passing the time, when they would rather be doing something else, somewhere else, with someone else. This is your job as speaker—to captivate your audience’s attention, inspire them to change their thinking and practice new behavior. Audience profiling depends meaning, connection, and impact.
Audience Profiling Exercise
As you prepare to give a presentation, ask questions. These questions and their answers will help you sculpt effective presentations every time.
- What are the program expectations?
- What is the context, who, why, where, what, and when are you and the audience uniting?
- Profile your actual audience.
- Revise and adapt, even just before and during your presentation.
Engage the audience with humor and enthusiasm on and off the stage. Invite participation by making this connection and referring to it from the stage. Everyone comes alive when they are being acknowledged with a shout out to table 5, a specific reference to a conversation, or a well-placed joke that uses the appropriate buzz words, jokes, and hits the hot topics for this group.
Your story, if told well, has the power of genuine. Why do you speak, to these people, about this topic, now? Story adds meaning, connection, and context that bring a unite a group in the here and now.
- What’s your story?
- How does it relate to this presentation?
- What do you want for and from the audience?
- What does your audience need?
In a sea of speaker, how will you make a difference? This is where basic speaking and presentation come into play. Key messaging crafted from your research and audience poling fall flat unless you focus on the audience strategically.
Basic speaking skills start with effective nonverbal communication. They include the way you use your voice, body movement, gestures, eye contact, and energy.
How will you convey your intention for the audience with these basic six nonverbal skills? Audiences need a well-thought-out content strategy with well-chosen flow, elements of surprise, and a specific call to action.
Help the audience create a personal action plan, something they can do immediately after they leave your presentation. This means you know the 1-3 key points and have been clear and memorable so that the audience can bring these takeaways home and to the office in a meaningful way that invites thought and change.
What might stop you as a speaker from being fabulous and on point? You have prepared yourself as speaker, you know your subject, and this audience. What can go wrong?
The look and smell of fear stops us and the audience dead in our tracks. Unless… we embrace it. All speakers will look or feel stupid, make mistakes, say the wrong thing, not know what to say, forget something, lose the audience, and lose control, even if just for a bit.
In summary, the key to effective presentations is to know yourself, your audience, and your key points. Practice presentation skills, speaking skill basics, and connecting with different people. Most of all, it requires you to give to the audience your genuine expertise and authentic passion.