When you’re standing in front of the room, and everyone is looking at you, and waiting for you to say something interesting, it’s easy—probably natural—to feel self conscious. But that’s a potential trap, because public speaking and presentation isn’t really about you, the speaker. It’s about getting a message to your listeners as effectively as possible.
In a previous video, we considered three strategies for preparing an effective speech or presentation, one that focuses on your listeners rather than on you. In this video, we’ll examine three strategies for delivering the presentation in a way that keeps the needs of your audience front and center.
Strategy #1 – Deliver with clarity. Of course you know what you’re saying. After all, you created the content and your notes are right in front of you. But that’s not true for your listeners. They have just that one fleeting moment to get it. If they don’t, you’ve wasted everyone’s time.
Slow down, pause frequently and speak with your whole voice. The volume that feels natural for you in conversation is not a good model for effective public speaking. It’s a different platform with different requirements. So step up and invest yourself fully for maximum clarity.
Strategy #2 – Feel it first. Good speech is never just about saying some words. It’s about connection and relationship. So say it because you mean it or don’t say it at all.
For example, you can’t say, “I’m very happy to be here,” with a blank face and a flat voice while you stare at your notes. If you’re going to say, “I’m very happy,” you have to feel happy when you say it. If you feel it, we will feel it. And if you make us feel something, we’ll believe you and respond.
Strategy #3 – Monitor the situation. When you have the floor, it’s no time to be in your head or wrapped up in your notes. Be present in the room with your listeners. How are they doing? Do they understand the content or are they confused? Do they seem engaged or bored?
It’s been said that great speakers listen to the audience with their eyes. What you see might be very encouraging or it might be challenging. Even if you don’t know how to adjust your delivery, based on what you’re observing, noticing what’s happening is always better than not noticing at all.
When you’re communicating well, you’re not preoccupied with yourself and how you’re doing. You’re fiercely focused on the task in front of you: getting the message to the listeners as effectively as possible. It’s a big job and it requires your full attention and investment.
If you approach your speech or presentation with the intention of caring for your listeners—not taking care of yourself—you’ll feel focused and empowered, and you’ll communicate persuasively and effectively.
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