Every audience you will ever present to will immediately want to know that your message is designed just for them.
Audiences do not want to think your presentation is one you have delivered many times, even if you have.
One of the most effective tools to capture immediate audience interest is to use a customized recall during the opening of your presentation.
A customized recall is just what it sounds like; You recall something that happened in the past, which is related to your message. With your opening, there are several areas in which you can make recalls, and here are just 3 to help you:
1. Something leading up to the presentation
2. Something that was mentioned as you were being introduced
3. Something that happened or that you noticed prior to the presentation
When you open your presentation, you can call back to a story about something that happened behind the scenes that led up to that moment. For example, I spoke once to all the personnel in a school district in Virginia. The Superintendent (Mr. Turner) had been very meticulous with me throughout the weeks leading up to the event because he was nervous whether I would meet their needs.
A very simple tool which when applied can pay great dividend towards capturing immediate audience attention.
All the best with your presentations!
Every athlete knows that if you want to perform well, you have to have a strong core. They also know that the time to strengthen their core is not while running a marathon or playing 18 holes of golf.
It needs to happen long before and gradually over time. The same is true for a presenter. You have to have a strong core.
Your core consists of seven key skills. The critical skills you need to internalise and get into your "muscle mind" before an important event or presentation are
1. eye contact
5. facial expression
6. vocal inflection
1. Eye Contact
Eye contact is a key skill for building trust and credibility. With solid eye contact you instantly appear transparent and confident. You project sincerity and demonstrate respect. However, remember that being nervous can cause your eyes to shift and dart.
There is a big difference between glancing at someone and really connecting with them. Not only will poor eye contact make you appear unsure, but it may also result in you and your message being dismissed.
Practice sustaining eye contact by finishing a complete thought or sentence with one person at a time when you are with friends or family in social situations.
Posture signals that you are confident and open. It is important whether you are standing or sitting. Most of us remember the message our mothers preached when we were children, "Stand up straight." "Sit up straight." However, when we are nervous we quickly move to what feels comfortable. Sometimes, what is comfortable conveys the opposite of what we are trying to project.
To practice good posture, balance your weight equally on both feet and let your hands rest at your sides in a neutral position if you are not using them to make a point. Practice this open posture when possible.
Pausing at the end of a sentence or thought for a breath will help you to think and to let your listeners digest your thoughts. However, while pausing makes perfect sense, it is very difficult for many of us. It may even seem counter-intuitive.
Practice pausing by recording your voice. Before leaving a voicemail, play back the message to see if your sentences come to definite ends. Do this 4-5 times a day. If you hear non-words, um's, ah's, etc, you are undoubtedly not pausing enough. Keep practicing until you there are no filler words and the pacing is slow enough for your points to stand out.
Gestures are a perfect way to emphasise an idea or thought. When we are relaxed, we automatically gesture. When we are nervous, we fidget or clasp our hands. The more you let energy out, the more your listeners can see the conviction you have for your topic.
Get feedback from a colleague on whether your gestures come from the shoulder, versus the wrist or elbow. Ask the friend to notice if your gestures are repetitive. Obviously, variety keeps listeners engaged. Any distracting gestures will make people pay attention to your hands and not your words.
5. Facial Expression
Your Face speaks volumes. It lets listeners know how they should react to your topic. There is obligation when a speaker smiles. Listeners feel they should smile back. Also, when the presenter smiles, it relaxes others. Tension is reduced. It is never a good idea to have a poker face.
Ask friends and family to give you feedback on how animated your face becomes when you are speaking. If you are one that doesn't easily smile, consider wearing a rubber band around your index finger or wrist as a reminder.
6. Vocal Inflection
Listeners pay attention to presenters who have inflection in their voices. No one enjoys a presenter with a monotone voice. A voice with inflection has highs and lows; words are emphasised in each sentence.
To check your voice for inflection, use your cell phone and record it or leave yourself a voice message. If your voice sounds flat, practice reading business materials out loud, emphasizing two or three words in each sentence. Tell a story to your preschoolers. Children demand that the storyteller be exciting.
Movement makes a presenter look confident, as long as the movement is purposeful. Swaying or a shifting is distracting. When the presenter points to individuals in the audience by moving in their direction, it is compelling. However, movement has to be prompted by the eyes of a listener. It is not natural to move away from someone or to move backwards while talking to them.
To practice, the presenter first needs to move away from laptop and notes. Then, he or she needs to think that he has a very important message to share. Next, he must engage the eyes of someone in the audience, move in that direction and finish his thought.
Mohammad Ali, Michael Phelps, Patrick Kane and Phil Mickelson are well known athletes in their respective fields. Each one of them would stress the importance of a strong core to performance.
If you want to win at communicating, you must practice the seven core skills identified above until you don't even think about them. You just do them naturally.
As your proficiency increases, so will your effectiveness as a presenter.
All the best with your future presentations!