In my last post I shared three techniques that really help to make a good presentation even better. What other techniques will help lift what you’re presenting so that you get your meaning across even more effectively? Here are three:

  1. Breathe!

  2. Have fun!

  3. Vary the pace and emotion

1a. Breathe – you, that is

This might seem obvious, if nothing else because you’ll pass out if you don’t!, yet in our rush to make our point to our audience we can enter a conversational style of delivery and not a presentational style of delivery. What do I mean? In our conversation with others we can often “umm…” or ‘errrr…”. That’s OK to do that in conversation; that’s not OK to do that when presenting. You’re audience, either unintentionally or intentionally, will start counting the “ummms” and switch off from your all-important message. Breathing!, taking your time where appropriate and delivering your message with sufficient time for your audience to process what you’re saying (more on pace later) will help you to provide an effective message to your audience.

What to do:

Practise, practise and practise some more so that your message flows smoothly and effortlessly and you are in complete control.

It’s a cliché but there is no substitute to knowing what you’re going to say. Once you are familiar and comfortable with what you’re presenting you can ‘go off track’, as your audience responds to your message. You won’t be comfortable and flexible to your audience’s needs if don’t practise.

1b. Breathe – what you’re presenting, that is

Not only must you breathe but what you’re presenting must breathe as well. If you deliver everything without allowing time for pausing, reflection and for your point to ‘sink in’ your presentation will lack effectiveness. Specifically plan places where your presentation can ‘breathe’ by pausing. Further, allow a little longer than you think before making your next point if you’ve just paused. Remember, you are presenting; you are not having a conversation. What might seem like a long time to wait to you won’t be a long time to your audience. Time is needed for your message to get to your audience so give them time.

What to do:

Find places in your presentation where you will pause. Mark the pauses in the text and practise. And Wait a little longer than you think you should wait before carrying on.

2. Have fun!

Presenting should be like a play; there should be drama and comedy; it’s a tragedy that more aren’t like this! By drama I don’t mean depressing facts and by comedy I don’t mean a laugh-a-minute.  What I mean is have places where there is a serious point to get across but have fun with more light-hearted sections too. Steve Jobs’s presentations are hallmarks of someone who loved to have fun with what he was presenting.

What to do:

Watch any of his keynote speeches on YouTube like this one and the fun element comes through in abundance.

3. Vary the pace and emotion

Your presentation should be like a story: a play if you like, because you are taking your audience on a journey from the beginning to the end. If you deliver using the same pace you have robbed your presentation of the drama. If you deliver it using the same level of emotion either you’ll never get through it because you’re just too excited!, or you’ll bore your audience to death because you’re so unemotional. It will come across that you don’t care.

The art is to vary the pace and emotion responding to the audience (hence the reason you must practise so that you’re prepared) and helping them to understand your message. Always be willing to show your audience that you care about what you’re saying (if you don’t how can you expect them to?) and use more pace and emotion as well as expressive words to make this clear to your audience. Conversely, slow down and talk quieter in places. This allows you to build to those places where you will use more emotion and speak louder. To reiterate, you must practise before you present.

What to do:

World class presenters spend hours rehearsing what they are going to say. Read (even better speak or at least mouth) through your notes several times so that you know what’s coming next.

There is no substitute for experience. We all know that the more we do something the better we can become at it. These techniques will help lift your presentation above the  dearth of a great many presentations and help you more effectively communicate.

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