Anyone involved in internet marketing may think speeches and presentations are not important skills for them, but that is not true. The web pages that grab attention now use audio and video streaming, the face behind the site is going to be exposed sooner or later. In webinars and conference calls, presentation skills are crucial You may have chosen a home based business because you prefer lone working: most people find making a speech more scary than dying! And because they dread it so much, they convince themselves it will be awful. As we all know, these predictions become self-fulfilling.
With a little preparation you can be a killer presenter rather than a dead one – make your presentations memorable, fulfilling your purpose and meeting the needs of your chosen audience. Challenge yourself to take a radical approach to the whole business of presenting with some simple techniques that you can adapt to suit. If you deliver a speech in your style you will enjoy it more, and so will your public. Everyone needs to make good speeches or presentations – if you get involved in network marketing your presentations are key to earning your living. We all see a lot of presentations and some are memorable for all the right reasons – stimulating and interesting, leaving the audience wanting more. Others could at best be used as cures for insomnia, or can make the audience resent the waste of their time. The best presenters deliver a clear message with conviction and work hard to engage the audience, with impressive results. The converse is also true: no amount of technical expertise will help if there is no message in the talk, or if the speaker clearly has no faith in it.
Never overload your listeners with excessive detail: few, if any, talks are purely for information exchange despite what many people think. They are for building credibility, respect, understanding, trust or relationships – but for pure information download they are inappropriate. Of course information is exchanged but not as much as the average speaker hopes or expects. Use visual aids if they serve a purpose, but not as a hiding place. They should support the message in the way that best meets the needs of the audience. Never read verbatim from notes, or simply repeat the bullet points on your slides, because it’s a waste of everyone’s time. If you have nothing to add, then you don’t need to be there!
‘It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.’
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
‘Public speaking is very easy’ Dan Quayle, US Vice-president to George Bush 1989- 1993
Always know the outcome you want from a presentation. It may be to tell people about your business, secure their co-operation, or sell them something. Ask the right questions from the outset to clarify the purpose and appropriate style. First, why are you speaking? Who are your audience and what will you want them to do as a result of listening to you? How can you influence the outcome? It is pointless giving any talk if you don’t know why you’re there. You will check that your message is clear: can you explain the key ideas in two sentences? How can you support that message in a memorable way?
Now prepare your speech outline: like any good story a presentation needs a beginning, middle and an end.
· Who you are and why you are making this presentation
· What your presentation is about and why it is being given
· Why it will be of interest to them
· How long it will take
· When and if they can ask questions
· Whether there will be handouts
· What you hope to achieve by the end of the presentation
· Essential facts relevant to the group you are presenting to. What is the key thing you want the audience to understand?
· What logical order will you follow?
· ‘Nice to know’ points to be added if time permits
· Bring together and summarise the main points of your discussion
· Thank the audience and invite questions
It is good for your emotional state to feel prepared, and a courtesy to your audience Stage fright is less apparent to the audience than to the speaker. Most accomplished speakers still experience it, but they manage their emotional state to overcome it. It does not matter how you get into a good emotional state; the results are the same. Always arrive early for presentations and while you relax for a few minutes, mentally rehearse how you want it to go. The difference between enjoying your presentation and dreading it is the way you use the nervous reaction. By taking control and using the adrenalin rush positively you can perform well and come away satisfied that you have achieved what you aimed for in your presentation.
You can improve your physical state, to support your emotional state. Keep your voice well-lubricated, but not with tea/coffee/alcohol – these dry out your vocal chords. Drink water and if necessary have a cup with you (placed safely out of the way) during your presentation.
Be conscious of how you breathe. When you breathe in, aim to feel as if you take air in as low down in your body as possible without your shoulders having to rise. Take a relaxed, deep breath before you start to speak. It will make you feel calmer and more confident.
Don’t do all the talking if you don’t want to – get others to participate by challenging your listeners, asking them questions and stimulating discussion.
Good posture is very important if you want to get the best out of your voice. Remember to stand up straight.
Warm up your voice! Chew an imaginary toffee! Hum gently up and down! A properly warmed-up voice will sound alive and free. Massage your face to warm and relax the muscles
If you find your mouth getting dry during the presentation – gently bite the tip of your tongue. This releases saliva back into your mouth
Stretch, tense and relax your whole body. Shake your fingers and wrists, roll right and left shoulders individually and then together.
Your presentation skills give your words life. It is not a good idea to give a ‘canned’ presentation. Rehearse. Prepare and practice by all means – but let the material take second place to your energy and individuality. You want a certain outcome. If you fix your presentation too rigidly it becomes an end in itself rather than a means to an end.
Any effective talk must communicate your arguments and ideas, persuade your audience that they are true, and be interesting and entertaining. Business speakers sometimes forget about the third item, thinking (mistakenly) that work is serious and entertainment plays no part in formal presentations. Some think it follows automatically from the first two (it doesn’t). Others believe that if a talk is entertaining, it can’t at the same time contain a serious message. Not true: you can communicate and persuade effectively and entertain at the same time. Keeping your audience interested and involved is essential because you need their full attention to get the message across.
Listening is hard work, especially at conferences. When audiences attend talks over a period of several hours, they need the speaker’s help to maintain their focus, or one conference speech merges with another. This is the true meaning of “entertainment.” With serious topics entertainment doesn’t mean making your audience laugh out loud. Instead, it’s about helping them stay focused on and interested in what you have to say.
Begin by reminding them how long your speech will be, and whether you are taking questions during the presentation, afterwards – or even not at all! During the presentation look around – make eye contact with as many people as possible. Move around if you feel more comfortable, use your hands to express yourself – but avoid distracting mannerisms. Remember to smile! (some of the audience may be as nervous as you). Focus on the people who are nodding and showing the most interest. This will help bring the rest on board.
Finish your speech with a positive summary of the key points and point the way ahead – question time, follow-up contact: whatever you are offering. THANK THEM for listening. Stay professional even with a hostile audience
It is a myth that experienced presenters don’t need to prepare thoroughly. After all, they are coming along to hear what you say – people may even be paying to hear you. If you are properly prepared you will be remembered for all the right reasons.