Do you present with eloquence at work?
Eloquence seems to me to be one of those words you don’t hear very often these days, especially in the workplace. Accompanied by words like charisma, presence and gravitas, these terms sometimes feel difficult to define.
To present with eloquence is often a term reserved for great wedding speeches, senior politicians in their electoral campaigns or legendary speeches like Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’.
It’s not often something most people consider when they are call upon to present their ideas at work.
For me eloquence isn’t something to be reserved exclusively for a grandiose event designed to rally a nation or entertain a wedding party. It is simply being able to say the right things in the right way with ease, confidence and simplicity.
To present with eloquence is within everyones reach
It does however, take a level of awareness, discipline and practice to achieve.
If you would like to present with eloquence, the following suggestions will go a long way towards helping you.
1. Make listening easy
Have you noticed that the speakers you may have considered as eloquent have made it very easy for you to listen attentively to them?
It didn’t happen by accident; they made certain long before you arrived that:
– You would be able to hear them easily
– You would be able to see them easily
– They could move around freely and easily
– You would be comfortable
– Everything works
– There are no external distractions
2. Take them on a journey
Imagine you arrive at work tomorrow and even before you take your coat off and sit down your boss shouts: ‘Don’t take your coat off we are all going out for the day!’
It’s likely that three of the first questions you may ask are:
– Where are we going?
– Why are we going there?
– How are we going to get there?
Most of us like the idea of going on a journey when we know the answer to these questions.
The eloquent speaker makes it their priority to answer them before they are asked.
3. Say the most important thing you have to say first
In his book, ‘The gift of the gab’ David Crystal says, ‘ Don’t say anything important at the very beginning; wait a couple of minutes, and fill those minute by saying something trivial’.
I’d suggest that is really poor advice
You have moments to capture your audience’s attention,interest and curiosity.
The last thing they want from you is trivia as the first words you speak.
If you take David’s advice, not only will they not thank you for it, you will lose your audience at the start.
Once you do, it’s really hard to get them back
There is nothing eloquent about trivia, especially when it’s the first thing you say.
The great speakers do the complete opposite.
They approach the platform with confidence, grace and poise.
They stand in silence for a few moments until their audience are completely settled.
You will see them smile and then they say their most important point first.
Far too many professionals act more like comedians when presenting in business
In other words, they save the punchline to the end.
That works for the comedian but it’s the last thing the extremely busy, discerning audience wants in the workplace.
4. Make it personal
Most business presentations are far too long.
Speaking eloquently doesn’t include rambling, waffling and padding out your presentation.
To present with eloquence you must ensure that everything you say is completely relevant to your audience.
If it adds no value to your audience and won’t make any difference to them, leave it out.
5. Get philosophical
Countless articles on the art of public speaking have included reference to the great Greek philosopher Aristotle.
Over 2000 years ago, the extraordinary thinker gave us the key to present with eloquence.
Appeal to your audience’s logic
Appeal to your audience’s sense of emotion
Appeal to your audience’s sense of ethics
It’s still extremely sound advice today.
6. Have a conversation
I’ve yet to meet a professional who looks forward to the prospect of attending business presentations. Unless of course ,their job is so tedious that they would rather be anywhere else than doing it.
Most of us find it very difficult to get excited about the idea of having someone stand in front of us simply talking at us.
Many people call this presenting
Conversely, most of us look forward to and enjoy having a great conversation,
A conversation which is interesting, stimulating and of course two-way.
Eloquence lies in the conversation not in the presentation
– Speak slowly and in short sentences
– Use simple, plain language and avoid the jargon and flamboyance
– Ask rhetorical questions
– Ask questions you want your audience to think about and answer
– Be open, share your opinion, ask for theirs, tell them stories.
7. Don’t be the same as everyone else
Imagine attending a presentation at work tomorrow.
The speaker presents in the same manner, with the same approach to content, visuals and delivery that you experience every single day.
Can they present their message eloquently?
Of course they can, if they follow all of the suggestions I’ve shared so far and have a powerful message.
Is it enough?
To present with eloquence involves challenging the status quo, daring to be different and certainly not being the same as everyone else.
If you want your message to stand out and stick with your audience, it would be unwise to follow the crowd.
If you’d like to learn to present with eloquence:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
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