How much is your actual delivery responsible for the awesome presentations you deliver, when they’re really awesome?
If you prefer listening to reading, please click here for an audio version:
Welcome to the 3rd blog in this Presentation Skills Trilogy. I trust you’ve found the journey useful so far? First we established how important good preparation is and then how to retain your audiences engagement.
I’d now like to maximize how the final part of a truly awesome presentation is left to it’s actual delivery.
Awesome Presentations have a Good Start
We spoke about your “energized entrance”. Beaming smile. Confident presence (irrespective of what’s actually happening to your “butterflies” underneath). Purposeful gait. Solid, confident stance.
Before saying anything I then like to actually pause and just quietly look at the audience. Making eye contact with several people and nodding as and if they “connect”.
Many people then like to utilize what’s been happening, make a wisecrack or crack a joke to get the audience smiling or chuckling. For instance if you might be an introvert, you could get some useful “chuckle mileage” out of that as you start, helping to build empathy at the same time as many in the audience will be able to relate to you already.
I certainly like to “open them up” using all four communication preferences at the start (auditory, visual, kinaesthetic and auditory digital) for instance saying up front: “I’m delighted to be here to talk to you today about xyz, to share some insights on abc so as to give you a feel for its benefits in the 123 context, and for those of you more interested in the detail, there’ll be plenty opportunity to deep dive in the Q&A at the end“. That way the unconscious mind of each of the 4 preferences will have been addressed and everybody feels included from the get-go.
If you can weave your key message that you want them to walk away with at the end within this, great. Provided you don’t “muddy the water of the one with the other” in doing so.
I urge the more nervous people to hold a glass of water in your hand. At least until the nerves are settled. It “smoothens” you movements and avoids (hides) “the shakes”.
Awesome Presentations use No Notes
We agreed in our preparation that truly awesome presentations don’t use notes, right?
Remember the 4Mat approach. :
- 10% why.
- 20% what
- 60% how
- 10% so what next?
And the Mind Map around your key message, with all it’s branches and twigs, each with a practiced, associated symbol reminding you of the content behind it?
Giving you confidence. But also allowing you to focus your energy on truly connecting with your audience. With passion and volition. Using all your senses. To stimulate theirs. Rather than worrying about whether you’ve got the content or sequence right.
They Keep Moving
I dislike being held prisoner by a lecturn. Make sure you’re “wired” or have a handheld microphone if there’s amplified sound involved, so you can move.
If you’re using slides, remember the audience reads from left to right. Make sure your movements across the stage often end up back at their right side of the screen. So when their eyes finish reading, the next thing they see again is you. Bringing their reading distracted attention back to what you’re saying.
Remember to keep in touch with the smilers – they’ll encourage & support you – and allow you to read their response to how you’re coming across. But also notice how numerous others across the room are responding. And adjust, taking into account what you’re observing.
Humour always helps, but never at someone else’s expense. People are more open and more receptive when their humour has been piqued.
There may be controversial or competitive parts or some “tension” within your content. It should always be delivered from the same spot on the stage. When it’s coming up, move to that spot to deliver it from there. They won’t notice that, but their unconscious mind will prepare them for that message – because it will notice you’re going there again. And then be sure to return to the spot you’ve designated to be the one from which you deliver most of your presentation. But certainly the “feel good” messages that matter.
Your 4Mat preparation should have a rough timeframe attached at least to each quadrant or MindMap branch. Looking at watches is as distracting as notes. And so you’ll need to find a way of timekeeping that works for you to pace yourself. Knowing when you’ll want to be at which juncture so you have plenty of time for Q&A.
Animation and Gesture
Remember the risk of boring monotone? Variety is the spice of…. Varying our pace, volume, tonality, enthusiasm, seriousness, pauses, language sophistication, gesture, posture, humour etc all serves to keep our audience awake and engaged.
Awesome presentations leverage as much variation as we can. But without overwhelming or confusing them. Using a pause or prolonged silence is a great tactic to bring their attention back to you, if you feel it waning. Or to slow an enthusiastic or energetic part down again.
Language and slides make sure there’s something for all the communication preferences. Some sound-bytes for the auditories, some blue sky pictures or video clip (even muted) for the visuals, something for the kinaesthetics to “try on” and some research links for the auditory digitals.
But despite all this variation, never lose track of keeping it relevantly connected to your key message(s). And to keep your content on track through the structure of the why, what, how and what next.
The Power of Summarizing
In longer presentations I suggest you summarize what you’ve covered so far at appropriate points during the presentation. Certainly at the end.
Each summary needs to help guide the audience back to remembering your key message. The one you want them to walk away with.
So What Next?
Every sales course will stress the importance of “the close“. The “call to action“.
In our 4Mat preparation. our last quadrat was “what next“, right? After reminding your audience of what you’ve covered and “what’s in it for them“, it’s vital for your “close” to emphasize what to do now.
I urge you to use a future pace, an important NLP (Nero Linguistic Programming) “closing” technique. It takes your audience to a particular event in the future, where in their mind they are utilizing or applying what you are sharing with them right now. Taking them to a place in the future where they have leveraged, applied or experienced what your key message intended. As if it had already occurred. And letting them experience how that feels. Right now. Powerful emotional influence to support your “close”.
Your Awesome Presentations
And so I’d now like to take you to after your next presentation. I’d like you to feel the afterglow of an awesome experience. What did you “have a go at”, and how well did it work for you? Can you hear what people around you are saying? What did you learn? Can you put your finger on what was most valuable? And what will you do differently next time?
You see, no matter the outcome of that one, every presentation is an opportunity to improve on the last one. That’s what makes awesome presenters awesome. You just keep building on the last one and learning and learning and learning.
And so this has been a whirlwind run through decades of personal and coaching experience. From what I’ve learned helping every level of presenter “polish” your confidence, your skill, your enjoyment and your results from awesome presentations. It’s a skill, not an inborn talent, remember? Skills are learned and developed.
Please will you add any further insights that work for you in the comments, so we can all learn and benefit from them?
This was the final blog in a trilogy.
You can access the other two from here: