What does it take to be a great presenter?
You’ve probably been to countless presentations, seminars, conferences, even a simple team meeting, where the presenter captivated your attention and didn’t let it go. What made their presentation so special?
As you become more comfortable in the limelight and discover what makes you unique as a speaker, you’ll also notice common “traps” of presentation-giving:
Television, movies, theater all have the mysterious fourth wall: the undiscussed, unobstructed window into the scenes playing before you; essentially the view behind the camera.
In presentations, the fourth wall does not exist. You are not putting on a performance or a show. For one reason or another, speakers forget to interact with their audiences. They unknowingly create a barrier between themselves and their audience by not including them in the conversation; they talk at them.
Explore ways to include your audience in your presentation: ask a question, request feedback, lead an exercise, etc. Interaction creates connection, and your audience will be more likely to stay focused, absorb your message and have fun!
Does silence make you uncomfortable? If a pause comes up in conversation or presentation, do you start to get anxious, waiting for someone to break the silence?
Yet, knowing when to be silent or take a pause is a powerful tool in a presenter’s arsenal. In fact, this principle rings true in sales deals, negotiations and team development.
In a presentation, you’re doling out a lot of information, and while you may have no problem keeping up, the same may not be true for your audience. Knowing when to slide in a perfectly-timed pause will allow your audience to receive your message and come up with their own conclusions.
Quality of information is better than quantity; you may need to cut down on your content and insert more pauses, to really land your message.
This falls in line with interaction and breaking down the fourth wall. Switch up the way you think about presentations, so you’re viewing them as large-scale conversations, rather than a soliloquy with you at center stage.
People love to answer questions — it’s a natural instinct. If you can pique the interest of your audience, by posing a thought-provoking, relevant question, you’re sure to get a few raised hands.
Avoid calling people out at random, as no one likes to be put on the spot unexpectedly. The last thing you want is your audience members to fear interaction; it should be a voluntary experience.
People who ask questions are generally perceived as more thoughtful, likeable and approachable — questions show you care.
Do you dread giving presentations? All I can say to that is practice, practice, practice.
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