If you’re prepping for an upcoming presentation, there are several key details to include to make for a more compelling impression:
1. Command your space with “power poses.” Before you step on stage, find a private area and make large circles with your arms, take a few deep breathes, and bend from side to side, allowing yourself a few moments to release nervous energy. While you may not be completely free from a few butterflies remaining in your stomach, you will feel better from the inside out.
2. Begin with a strong introduction. Capturing the audience’s attention with a funny story or a compelling question sets the tone for a more productive presentation. Rather than rambling off statistics or diving into PowerPoint slides, make an effort to connect with the room while showing you are both well informed and relatable.
3. Keep a few hard candies or cough drops nearby. You never know when you will need to clear your throat and having a mint or cough drop will be of great help. On several occasions in my career, I have swallowed incorrectly and benefited from a small eucalyptus cough drop. You may never have to use one, but better safe than sorry.
4. Own the stage. Instead of hiding behind a podium or leaning against a table, position your feet on the floor, weight distributed evenly. Don’t, however, stay in one place the entire time. Walk around making eye contact with your audience, involving the participants with appropriate questions. Don’t point or fidget, but use gestures to your advantage. Refer to my previous blog on body language.
5. Be aware of your word emphasis. The same sentence, with an emphasis on only one word, can change the entire meaning. For example:
SHE is my friend. (The person standing to your right is my friend.)
She is MY friend. (Yes, the person standing next to you is my friend.)
She IS my friend. (I assure you, she is not angry with me.)
She is my FRIEND. (No, she is not my date, wife or client.)
6. Go with the flow. If you happen to digress from your original outline, don’t panic. No one but you will know what you have written down. This is why it’s important to know your material backwards and forwards. Getting off track by an unexpected question or comment won’t phase you if you are comfortable with your topic.
7. Don’t get rattled by a heckler. In the unlikely event that you have an unruly or angry audience member, worry not. It will soon become obvious to the rest of the group that he or she is a disgruntled attendee. Respectfully answer his or her question, then offer to follow up with further feedback after the speech. Your assertive nature will be noticed and admired. Don’t allow one person to shake your confidence.
8. Teach your audience something they don’t know. A good presenter offers attendees something they can relate to, understand and utilize when they walk out the door. The information will often overlap between their business and social worlds and can become a conversation starter at an upcoming networking event or dinner meal.
9. Close with a call to action. Let your audience know how they can contact you. Encourage them to keep in touch and ask for continued feedback via social media. Building a long term relationship is the byproduct of a great speech.