One of the most common requests we hear on our presentation training courses is to help people be like other presenters they’ve seen, heard and admire.
Our response is always the same; you don’t have to be like someone else to become a great presenter. The best presenters are highly individual and don’t perform to a template or prescribed formulas. The presenters we tend to admire as ‘great’ speakers, get results through their own authentic personalities and speaking styles. That said, we do believe that many of those high impact presenters share one thing in common. It’s their the unquestionable ability to connect with their audience. Here at Mindful Presenter we have a simple motto which we love and live by:
‘Connecting is everything’
The best way we know to connect with an audience is through showing them SPACE:
That doesn’t mean you have to change yourself or follow a step by step blueprint but it does mean finding a way to reflect these qualities in a speaking style that works for you.
STRENGTH is the foundation of any great presentation. It includes strength of:
It means looking and sounding as if you mean every word you say. It means presenting your message with confidence, conviction and sincerity.
You don’t have to be an extrovert or naturally confident person to speak with strength. You just have to believe in your message and in the difference it will make to your audience. Strength comes from speaking with the tenacity and faith that you have something important to say.
Without that belief most presenters struggle. In her article, ‘The One Thing You Must Do To Make Your Message Relevant’, Stephanie Scotti sums it up beautifully: ‘To state it simply, if you don’t believe in your message, neither will your listeners. Some speakers make the mistake of relying too heavily on personal charisma, hoping that will be enough to get the audience to buy into the content of the presentation. In reality, that doesn’t work. People can sense when something is “off.” They might not be able to explain it but listeners know when you are not authentic, and the result is an automatic disconnect. You can’t make it by faking it!’
If your content isn’t rich, strong and isn’t carrying your unwavering belief that it is of signifiance to your audience, it will be forgotton by the time your audience return to their desk or the car park. One of the many sources of anxiety for presenters is their content. Presenters often have a wealth of knowldege and data but if they don’t feel the personal relevance and value it will have for their audience they will feel excessively anxious.
Many presenters dread the very thought of presentation nerves or anxiety without appreciating one very important reason as to why it exists. As strange as it may sound and as difficult to accept, anxiety exists to protect both ourselves and our audience. I like the way Katharina Star, PhD, writes about it in her article, The Benefits of Anxiety and Nervousness.
At Mindful Presenter we believe it’s the minds way of ensuring that we don’t just set out to dump a ton of data on human beings and hope that they ‘get it’. Everything we share with our audience has to be crafted to make a difference to their professional or personal lives.
PASSION is the jewel in the crown of memorable presenting. Arguably, it’s a presenters greatest strength.
Passion isn’t a gimmick, tool or technique, it’s a feeling, an intention and drive.
When you show up with passion for a presentation people pay attention and they know when you’re passionate because you are animated, engaging, and enthusiastic. Passion is the art of showing you really care about the topic you are presenting. If you don’t care, you can be very confident that your audience will sense your apathy in a heartbeat. I like the way Dr. Nick Morgan puts it in his article, ‘How to Communicate with Passion:’
‘We don’t fully trust people until we’ve seen them get emotional — angry, sad, ecstatic — because these moments allow us to take the measure of their values.’
Even the most mundane content can be brought to life through passion. You can demonstrate passion by sharing insights, stories, experiences and showing your audience how much you care.
Once your intention is clear and meaningful it becomes much easier to speak with passion. These 5 tips included in, Five Ways To Speak Passionately Without Getting Too Emotional. are worth considering.
AWARENESS is the beginning of the presenter’s journey.
Who your audience are
What you have to offer them; how can you help
Your message and the difference it will make
How much your audience know and care at the moment
You personal communication strengths and challenges
What you want your audience to do
How you want your audience to feel
How do you sound verbally when you speak
How do you look when you speak
Awareness is a skill which like any other skill can be nurtured, strengthened and developed. If you’re interested in learning how to develop a much higher level of personal awareness take a look at and listen to the audio link in Dr Dan Siegel’s, ‘Wheel of Awareness.’
CONNECTING is everything.
Regardless of your position or status, we all have one thing in common; the need to feel connected!
Presentations are an incredible opportunity to fuse that connection and it’s easy if you make it your number one priority. Self- disclosure is a great way of starting and you can do this by letting your audience into a little part of your world by telling them something about you.
Sharing your personal experiences, feelings, hopes and even anxieties will allow your audience to connect with you far more openly. Show your audience:
That you’re human and vulnerable just like them
That you have their best interests at heart
That you care
That you can see things from their perspective and that you’re in this together
In his article, ‘How to Use The Power of Storytelling to Connect With Your Audience’ Pawan Kumar, shares a mutual belief that ‘Stories are a great medium to express your views, impress people and make a human connection with them.’
EMOTION is the deepest function of the mind, and what better way to connect with your audience than by helping them to feel something?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Be mindful about how you want your audience to feel at the beginning, during and at the end of your presentation. In a previous article I wrote called, ‘The 5 Most Important Words in Business Presenting’, I shared our passionate belief that those 5 words are,’ Please Make Me Feel Something.
A simple but exremely powerful formula to susbstantially increase the likelihood of your audience feeling something is to:
Look them in the eye
Our readers are always looking for powerful ways to give their audiences SPACE so if you have some that work for you and would like to share please feel free to do so in the comments section.
Public speaking is one of the most sought after and important skills for professionals today so watch out for future articles we will be posting regularly. You may also want to consider getting yourself some great public speaking coaching to set you on your way.
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If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and our public speaking coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.
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