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Send an email. Surf the web. Check out social media. Countdown the minutes. Have you sat through a presentation or speech and caught yourself doing one or all of these things? You know you should pay attention, but all you hear when you try and tune in is, “Wah wah.” Avoid being ‘that speaker’ with these tips.
1. Tell a story. If the story you’re telling weaves in a personal experience, even better. When your audience can relate to and empathize with you, they’ll be far more compelled to take action (whatever that may be). In a corporate setting, this may feel unnatural given the (typically) vulnerability this carries in front of an audience of people you work with, for or maybe don’t even know. But, you don’t have to share deep family secrets or dysfunction (some do, depending upon the topic and audience) to connect with your audience. Need some help honing your storytelling skills? We are HUGE fans of Nancy Duarte and her e-Book, Resonate.
2. Get to know your audience. To get to know them beyond just basic info, like their company, name, title, department, etc., you’ll have to dig a little deeper. And while you can’t personalize your content to each individual in the room, a little extra research will help you better connect with them. If you’re speaking in front of IT leaders from the fin tech space, learn more about the industry, companies they represent, key influencers within those areas, recent business news, trending topics, etc.
3. Get your audience involved. Do you want to “sit through” a presentation or speech or be part of it? There’s no better way to engage your audience than to involve them in your story. This can be in the form of taking questions during your presentation, letting your audience drive some of the content through live polling, asking questions throughout your presentation, or kicking it off with an ice breaker. If you really want to get them involved, find a way to bring one or some of them up on stage.
4. Start with your story, not your slides. And then ask yourself if you need slides. So many speakers immediately start pulling together slides before they even know the story. Don’t let your slides lead the narrative, that’s your job. Then ask yourself, “Do I even need slides?” If you do, remember less is more—less slides and copy. If you’re simply reading the content with no context or story to support it, you might as well just pass out the slide deck and call it a day.
5. Lose the fully-scripted notes. If you’re not all that comfortable speaking in front of a group of people, you’re not alone. But reading your entire presentation off a piece of paper or teleprompter takes away from the main reason live presentations are so powerful—the human connection. You want to connect with the audience, right? That’s not happening if your eyes are fixed on your notes or a teleprompter in the back of the room. Practice (but don’t memorize word-for-word) your presentation; incorporate ways to engage your audience; and try and meet some of the audience before you present, so you’ll have a few friends to make eye contact with (and maybe even incorporate and call out by name during your presentation).
And now, we’d love to hear from you! Have you overcome a fear of public speaking? If so, how? Have you coached a leader to help improve their presentation skills and delivery? What tactics were most effective?
We get it. Creating and delivering content that compel employees is an ongoing challenge. We’ve been on both side of this coin – the employee and the communicator trying to break through the clutter.
Bronn Communications, LLC is your resource for employee communications.
Bronn Communications is an Atlanta-based internal communications agency that helps companies reach and engage their most important audience and brand advocates—employees.