Over the last few weeks I’ve regularly been asked by clients and friends for presentation advice and whilst there is no definitive and recurring “Simon’s Tip List”, I’ve been noticing the thoughts that consistently resonated.
When responding to people on this theme, I am at pains to explain that we all have a presentation style and approach - unique to who we are, the intent and the audiences we meet. My style, my approach, my techniques are rarely, therefore, part of my direct suggestions. My wish for anyone I coach on this topic is that they find a way of becoming increasingly authentic and simplify their messages.
This simple note focuses on the magnetic, even hypnotic power for the words you may not currently be conscious of using.
Without consideration, a heightened awareness and a deliberate choice your mood; your concerns; your fears; your self-doubt or uncertainty; your confidence-level all influence your presentation lexicon, as well as your unconscious behaviour (stance; pace; gestures; movement; head-tilt; eye contact).
Adding and including frequent use of (piped-in) positive words isn’t enough. If you don’t fully believe them yourself, this will grin through too. Audiences pick up on these subtleties and their attitudes and their connection to you and your content shifts accordingly.
So here are my suggestions:
1. Be honest - sit and consider how you feel about your up-coming presentation. What doubts or concerns do you have about the attendees, about your content, about the impact you wish to have.
2. Now think about the words you would frequently use to speak those feelings or concerns – these are to be pruned from your vocabulary. Simply being aware of them is a good first step and helps reduce their occurrence in your speech. It is possible that the undesired mood and feelings affect your physical approach too.
3. Next, decide the impact you want to cause, your positive themes, the impression you want to have, the deep underlying message through your content. Refine this down to three to six words.
4. Rewrite (or rethink) your presentation to include frequent use of your ‘Impact Words’, be cautious about the frequency to avoid obvious over use though!
One of the people I worked this through with began full of doubt and fear of not being able to change the mind of a strategic committee and had become wrapped up in the concerns about the implications of a less than perfect impact and outcome. These were all influencing their presentation prep’, the chances of doubt-loaded words and likely impact. We explored the messages and impact that she really wanted to have and came up with five ready-for-use words: ‘fix’; ‘build’; ‘system’; ‘create’; and ‘outstanding’.
With practice the impact words became natural and could be casually added to many spoken sentences. The presentation went well!
Good luck pruning out the unhelpful and adding in your intended impact words and notice how you feel better and your attitude and that of your audience becomes boosted.
Keep it simple