Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Not your run of the mill “speak louder and move your hands more” tips. Real advice that will help you engage your audience.
Have you ever wondered how to achieve that elusive presence some speakers just seem to emanate naturally? Do you wish you had more charisma or panache? Would you feel more confident if you had a proven process for planning effective presentations? If so, you’re going to want to bookmark this article because I’m going to reveal the secret to my speaking success.
As a Leadership and Public Speaking Coach, I have helped over 1,000 individuals conquer their fear of public speaking, confidently command a room, and deliver compelling presentations that achieve their goals. I have a lifetime of experience in the spotlight as an actress and improv artist, which influences my unique coaching and facilitation methods. These experiences have given me insight and the ability to improve anyone’s leadership presence and speaking performance. Whether you are leading a meeting, giving a presentation, or an inspirational speech, these 10 tips will help you engage your audience and become the go-to spokesperson for your team or topic.
1) Know Your Audience
The number one rule of public speaking is knowing your audience. Find out as much as you can about the group you will be addressing. Find out their industry, expertise, professional level, familiarity with your topic, and everything else you can.
2) Have One Clear Objective
You have to know precisely what you want to achieve with your presentation. How else will you know you’re successful? Focusing on one specific goal will keep you focused throughout the presentation. No more rambling tangents! The most powerful objectives can be clearly stated in a single sentence, and most importantly, they are about the audience. Ask yourself, what I do I want the audience to know, understand, change, feel, or do at the end of the presentation. For example, I want you to understand a clear process for planning an effective presentation and feel confident you can do it.
3) Start With Why
Now that you know who your audience is and what you want them to gain. You need to make them want to listen to you. You need to capture their attention in the first 30 seconds, or they are going to return to their phones. To do this, start by telling them what your goal is and why it matters to them. If they see the benefit to them in the first minute, they will tune in for the rest.
4) Identify Your Obstacles
There are skeptics in every audience. There is a lack of trust among strangers. There is always resistance to change. Mindsets, mental models, and fear of taking risks holds people back. Identifying what questions and objections are likely to come up about your topic is the best way to plan your outline. This will help you plan a persuasive presentation and minimize the amount of resistance you get. Make a list of your obstacles and then prioritize them.
5) Determine Your Tactics
Now that you know the obstacles to achieving your objective and the order you want to address them, it’s time to plan what you will do and say. As you plan your content, assign a purpose to each section. For example, your tactics may include: Establish my credibility, connect with the audience, get buy-In, alleviate concerns, etc. You want to know precisely what you are doing with each section.
6) Ask Questions
A great way to immediately engage an audience is to begin by asking them questions. Ask for a show of hands to share their opinions or experience. Expert tip – you can combine with starting with why. For example, how many of you believe being visible at work is the best way to get promoted? How many of you agree that giving presentations is a great way to gain visibility at work? How many of you wish you knew a full-proof way to plan an effective presentation?
7) Tell a Personal Story
The number one way to get your audience to know, like, and trust you is with a personal story. Without a story, your audience has no way of relating to you or emotionally connecting with you. No matter how dry you think your topic is or how full of statistics and metrics, you must include a story. In fact, those are the kinds of presentations that need a story most. Stories are also one of the best sales tactics and teaching methods. And let’s face it, when you’re giving a presentation, you’re usually either teaching or selling something. Even if it’s an idea.
8) Visual Slides Are For Your Audience
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but for real. Your slides are not for you. They should not have your presentation written on them. In fact, they should not have much written on them at all. Do you want your audience to listen and engage with you or read your slides? Your visual slides are an engagement tool. It’s been scientifically proven that associating an image with a clear idea helps us store information in our long -term memory. So your visual slides should be designed to help keep your audience’s attention and remember your main points.
9) End with a Call To Action
What was that objective again? Oh right. It’s time to revisit it. Make sure you end by asking your audience to do something. This is an excellent opportunity to ask them questions again and to see if you achieved your goal. How many of you feel like you can apply this process to your next presentation? How many of you feel more confident knowing you have a plan?
Finally, you must practice your presentation out loud before you give it. No actor has ever walked on stage and spoke their lines out loud for the first time in front of the audience, and neither should you. How we write things and how we say things are very different. If you follow these ten tips and rehearse, I guarantee you will feel more prepared than you ever have before. You may not even need your script!