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Presentation Skills

At an event this month at which I gave the keynote address a number of Senior Managers shared their anxiety about making presentations. While it might sound strange that they were anxious about talking about a subject that they know well to an audience of professional colleagues, it actually should not strike us as surprising given that, up there among the three greatest fears in the world, is the fear of public speaking.

Like many other fears the only way to overcome it, is to master the art of speaking to groups. As Tony Robbins says "mastery requires that we understand things at a cognitive level, feel them at an emotional level and then take massive action" so here are 10 tips on public speaking to help you get started.

10 Tips for Great Presentations

  1. Make it about our audience and not about ourselves. If our focus is on delivering a service to our audience and giving them information that they need and can use in their own situation and circumstances, then we are less likely to be focused on ourselves and our own anxiety. Like any other undertaking, if we come at it from a position of service we are more likely to come across as natural and inspiring.

  2. Be clear about the message we want to communicate. ' What is the message we want to leave with our audience? If there 3 three things that you really want them to remember what would they be?'

  3. Practice out loud. No matter how many times we read over a presentation it's really important to practice it out loud because oral communication is different to written communication. Written communication sounds stilted if we read it. We want our presentations to be natural rather than word perfect. Practice them in front of someone else so we get used to the art of speaking to other people. Ask for feedback.

  4. Remember that body language is so important in communication. Words are only 7% of communication, tone represents 38% and body language accounts for an amazing 55% of our communication. We communicate through our posture, our movements and through our facial expressions. We will have more impact on an audience if we fill the space, if our gestures are open rather than closed.

  5. Watch the Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy on "Faking it Til you Make It". In fact try to watch a variety of Ted Talks and see how great speakers use their energy to communicate.

  6. Have a conversation with the audience rather than talking at them. Select someone at each corner of the room and in the middle and talk directly to that person for long enough to build a connection. Then move seamlessly to speak to someone in another part of the room. Everyone in that particular area will think that you are speaking directly to them and you build rapport.

  7. Video tape yourself and watch it back, identify areas where your speaking skills are already great and look for areas where you need more practice to develop certain skills.

  8. Ask questions which engage and enrol your audience. Who would like to know more about (whatever the subject you are speaking on)? Who would like to be able to engage an audience in every single situation effortlessly and seamlessly?

  9. Find opportunities to give talks to get the "yeeuch" out. Always stand up for presentations whether they are to groups of two or three people or much bigger audiences. Your state is more powerful whenever you stand up.

  10. Managing your state is essential to giving a good presentation. Remember your physiology, (posture, hydration, breathing), focus, (focus on the outcome you want for your audience) and language. Self talk as well as spoken language needs to be strong and positive. Pre-frame the outcomes you want "today you will learn to……….." "In this short presentation I will give you all the information you need to……………."

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