If you think a speaker’s primary job is to say the right words in the proper order without stumbling and making too many mistakes, it’s likely you give boring presentations. I understand how easy it is to fall into this trap. After all, speaking is a large part of presentation, and that involves words. But your listeners aren’t engaged and inspired just because you managed to get out the words properly.
I see this in my coaching practice all the time. If you’re just saying the words, delivering the information, nothing is happening. It’s dull. You’re not invested in your message. Your listeners aren’t engaged. You sense it and just want to get through it. Your audience politely puts up with it. Nothing changes when it’s over, and yet another opportunity is wasted. Know this: Good communication is never just about the words. It’s an experience. Great speakers create an experience for their listeners. They feel it for themselves in the moment of communication and invite their audience to share that experience. It’s more than words. They have to feel something. Here’s how you do that.
Make the message real. Find ways to bring it into the room. Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the bestselling book, Made to Stick, have this to say about presentations: “The number one mistake we’ve observed in presentations, and there is no close second, is that the message is too abstract.” There is too much information and not enough reality. Build your presentation around stories, demonstrations, and visual images to help your listeners experience what you’re talking about in a tangible way.
Don’t just talk about the topic. A robot can do that. Feel it. See it. Live it, as you’re speaking. If you use a word like excited, you should feel energized. If you express thanks to someone, you should feel gratitude. I know that seems obvious, but you’d be amazed at how often your energy, expression, and tone of voice are completely at odds with the words coming out of your mouth. It’s because you’re not in the experience. If you feel it, we will feel it. If you don’t feel anything, we won’t feel anything.
Give yourself permission to perform. Many speakers are working with conversational energy because they are used to that, and it feels comfortable and safe, but that’s not enough for presentation. Public speaking requires more than the energy you bring to everyday conversation; physically, vocally, and emotionally. Don’t worry about being over the top. The real problem is you’re not getting off the ground. What feels like too much to you is probably just right for your listeners.
Public speaking is never just about the words. It’s an experience. It’s your job as the speaker to create that experience and invite your listeners to share it. Before that can happen, you must be in the experience yourself. When you make the message real, speak with that strong sense of personal connection and invest yourself fully in the performance. You will be expressive and engaging. Your listeners will be receptive and responsive, and you will make an impact.
For more training to enhance your speaking skills, visit voiceandspeech.com and enroll in the free video mini-course, The Sound of Success.