Road To World Champion – Public Speaking & Presentation Tips That I Have Acquired Over 15 years
Have you ever experienced butterflies in your stomach when you were required to speak in front of an audience? Do you fear the audience members judging you? What if you don’t express to impress? Is the Just-Get-This-Over-And-Done-With notion constantly gnawing at your mind whenever you face a sizeable audience?
I’ve been there before, the times where I struggled to find ways to calm my nerves and excel in my presentations. I tried many self-proclaimed remedies and that includes searching for solutions online. Guess what? Google came back with 63 million search results when I typed “Public Speaking Success” and 104 million search results for the keywords “How To Speak Well In Public”!
I know how you feel. Rest assured, you’re not alone. And let’s be honest, I’ve probably made twice as many mistakes as you have. I was even boo-ed off stage once for having too many pause-fillers and awkward body language. The parting remark of a speech competition judge – “You seriously lack vocal variety…” – was equal parts condescending and brutally honest.
If you’re on this page and reading on, it’s because you’re facing the same problems that relate to stage confidence and competence; you are also looking for a way to overcome the psychological barrier of public speaking and acquire the well-guarded tools of owning the stage. If you are, this is the last page you’ll ever need to read. (Fret not, you don’t have to browse through every one of the 104 million search pages from Google)
Here’s my journey – just a / to sum it up…
For the last few years, I had always been available and never hesitated to help my friends out because I understood their problems and how demoralising it had made them feel. I never wanted anyone to feel the same way I did before, so I made it my life goal to help those in the same situation as I was previously. I even engaged in pro bono work where I helped youth-at-risk from Singapore Changi Prison, Boy’s Town and beneficiaries who were physically impaired to re-discover their self esteem and confidence.
Now…I want you to be one of the beneficiaries…
I am going to share with you effective tips for every component of the C-S-P framework for public speaking and presentation skills improvement:
Presentation Skills Training 101 (C-S-P Framework):
- Content (speech)
- Killer tip #1 – Know Your Audience’s Goals/ Needs
- Killer tip #2 – Create that Relevance Bridge
- Killer tip #3 – Lay the bread crumbs…
- Structure (presentation style)
- Killer tip #1 – Add a Quantity Limit, While Boosting Quality
- Killer tip #2 – Effective Powerpoint Slide Deck – Engagement Tools
- Killer tip #3 – <If I am late …> strategy
- Physiology (i.e. body language & vocals)
- Killer tip #1 – Identify the Specific Tone
- Killer tip #2 – Play with your Speaking Persona
Killer tip #1 – Know Your Audience’s Goals/ Needs
Prioritizing your audience, especially in formal situations, is a good habit (e.g., business presentations, pitching). The challenge is to choose the aim that matches with the presentation’s direction in these circumstances, which frequently have a persuasive goal to draw in and hold the audience’s interest. As you are ready to impress your audience with your presentation, this can also be a component of your self-research.
Finding the most likely objective of your audience is not a task best completed in solitude. Turn your attention to the particular group you have in front of you. Understanding their time constraints, unique interests, or historical focus can be important when presenting to a senior management team. You can focus your research by, for instance, understanding that your audience favors case studies as proof. You can check online, consult past experiences, or ask around inside your company (through resources such as LinkedIn, Quora, etc.). Determine the objective of your audience and firmly direct them there!
Killer tip #2 – Create that Relevance Bridge
Think of your potential audience as a child (no, we don’t mean that they are childish!). You need to grab their interest and begin enticing them with something fun, like a beautiful toy or a shiny object. The word “relevance bridge” is a metaphor for the process of identifying something that excites the audience and draws them toward you. This is what we mean by the relevance bridge. They will be unable to reject or disregard this as an idea.
The relevance bridge is a pitching/ presentation tool that needs to be used in the opening section or phase (not later on, when you have already lost your audience). Choose a challenge or a long-term opportunity to highlight when you begin this segment. Consider it the long-term objective you are attempting to capture. Always aim for clarity and simplicity (e.g., avoid jargon and 3-syllable terms) to attain the aforementioned goal. Try an analogy or illustration to pique the audience’s curiosity (“Imagine a world where…”) for a polished finish.
Killer tip #3 – Lay the bread crumbs…
What do you do now that your audience is captivated? Your game plan is the stunning furniture that will persuade your audience to sit down and embrace your idea, just as the relevant bridge is the lovely gateway that will catch their attention. Similar to this, your plan should be organized simply and precisely—a balance that is frequently simpler in theory than in practice. You should reject the urge to impress by utilizing extraneous, perplexing phrases – putting your audience off as a result.
Focus on structure while persuading your audience to get into your idea rather than overwhelming them with specifics. Start with a worthwhile, far-off objective that is within your grasp (e.g., our plan is to let users consolidate all their schedules in one application). Next, expand on that vision by describing how your team intends to lead the target audience to that objective. Your presentation can be organized into categories based on direct signposting (for example, “the first phase, second phase”), themes, or even views (for example, “we deliver three benefits – convenience, security, and flexibility”).
*** “Bite-sized” information…sometimes literally ***
Killer tip #1 – Add a Quantity Limit, While Boosting Quality
Knowing your audience profile and goals sets your destination. The next task is to clear your path to arrive at your target with confidence once you have it in mind. However, we wanted to concentrate on how you may revisit a ready content deck and mold it in accordance with your presenting aim. Many ways touch on the writing or rehearsal process. Setting a quantity constraint may be necessary to do this (for example, a presentation within a word count or time limit), but the main obstacle is making sure your content’s quality is maintained or, even better, increased!
Three strategies can be used to improve the quality of your main argument while imposing a quantity restriction. First, pick out the places that are likely to confuse your audience first using the foundational materials you already have. Even the tiresome sections—like the ones where you consistently start with, “This will be really technical,” for example—can be present. Second, review those challenging regions on a blank sheet of paper. Examine the presentation’s delivery of these key points: Is there room for a fresh viewpoint? Last, “do my primary points resonate with this point”, ask yourself as you go through each part of your presentation. This pushes you to carefully choose your words and phrases and build up to your major point!
Killer tip #2 – Effective Powerpoint Slide Deck – Engagement Tools
It might be difficult to present with a visual help in everyday situations, whether in person or online. In addition to the standard PowerPoint slides, various tools can be used as visual assistance (such as flip-chart, Prezi). Despite the range of tools available, your objective as a communicator is still to engage your audience and accomplish your speech aim. In the case of a corporate presentation, this is very crucial!
The use of slides as a visual aid is one issue that frequently causes problems. While there are various methods (or schools of thought) for organizing the information on your slides, there is still room to use visual aids to increase audience engagement. This extends beyond the text, color, and design of your slides! Instead, you might want to revisit your slide presentation and test out these two strategies for involving your audience in your talk.
Strategy 1 – Pose a Question; Not Just a Statement
Don’t give in to the need to stuff your slides full of information from beginning to end. In a presenting environment, you must bear in mind that your audience members must absorb information from both the speaker and the visual aids. You run the risk of losing the audience’s attention if your lectures require constant drilling of material to download and internalize. Your audience will need the space to absorb the material, even if it is intended as a handout.
Adding more question starters to the slide design is one way to change this. This gives your audience a “thinking space” or specific area to absorb the information you are presenting. Create a check-in slide, which is a slide with a reflective question, as an illustration, and give your audience a little window of time to consider the response. You might even utilize this area as a forum for audience participation in the process of knowledge development.
Strategy 2 – Integrate Technology Tools
While you can use a variety of technological tools in your presentation, we advise looking for collaborative ones that will let your audience analyze the information. The audience can cooperate to comprehend the learning points rather than taking in the material passively. They’ll be more engaged in the session if you invite them to take part in the discovering process!
Mentimeter is one platform you can use to gather information, ideas, or viewpoints about a particular subject or challenge. Your acquired data can serve as more than simply a platform for consolidation; it can also serve as the foundation for discussions with audience members. What is ideal? The responses are available to your audience on their own phones!
Killer tip #3 – “If I am late …” strategy
Beyond the planning, the material, and the practices, it’s crucial that you truly internalize the structure and flow of your presentation. You won’t likely present with conviction or authenticity if you don’t comprehend that. Simply put, encourage your audience to believe in your message before you do. The capacity to summarize and comprehend the main structure and points of your presentation at your fingertips is a component of establishing this conviction.
To help you reach this essence, let us introduce you to a technique we like to use – <If I am late …> Imagine you are running late to your presentation (not that we encourage this!). What will you do if you only have half an hour to convey your subject but all your materials are prepared? Adjust the time you have left as you proceed with this practice. The more you pare down your presentation to its bare skeletal structure, the more probable it is that you will find the core idea that will inspire and motivate your audience!
Physiology (i.e. body language & vocals)
Killer tip #1 – Identify the Specific Tone
The tone you want to convey should be taken into account first. To be clear, tone does not only refer to the aspects of your vocal tone (i.e., pitch). Rather, picture tone as the whole experience or “feel” you want your audience to experience during your presentation. The objective is to have a clear and consistent tone. Before choosing which precise communication skills to practice, you must think about the overall impact of your presentation (micro-level).
Select a professional or casual tone to begin altering the tone through your speaking style. The former does not imply a less enjoyable presentation style; rather, a formal tone might provide a presentation that is full of life. But by posing this query right away, you’ll be reminded of any formalities that might be necessary (e.g., presenting before C-level management may require more balanced vocal elements but can incorporate stage positioning). You can then begin to take into account the precise components of your body language from there (e.g., eye contact, vocal variety). Decide on the tone you want your audience to be in or establish the tone yourself!
Killer tip #2 – Play with your Speaking Persona
The first thing to note is that your speaking persona and your everyday persona will always be different. A change in how you show yourself is justified by the various goals, environments, or contexts. For instance, your casual speaking pattern won’t be appropriate for a theatrical presentation in front of a huge crowd. While the latter will demand a greater energy profile, the former may be more calm and informal.
With that divide, what is your speaking persona? Your speaking persona must be in line with your ‘self’. Simply put, you should communicate with a speaking style that makes you feel at ease. For instance, it might be futile to artificially lower your vocal tone to appear more authoritative if your natural vocal range is higher. Even worse, while trying to obtain the desired pitch on stage, you can become sidetracked! Choose nonverbal communication behaviours that you are familiar with when creating your speaking persona.
In building any soft skill, a premium is often placed on the learning process – the same applies to effective presentation skills training. To me, it is not about ‘hiding’ the secret formula or sauce. Instead, when you are aware of the “journey” it takes, you will be more likely to kick-start your presentation skills development with an open learning mind, ready to be changed.
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