Think back to the last professional conference you attended. Out of all the sessions you attended, which was the most memorable? Chances are that only one or two come to mind, and it’s probably a safe bet that the reason you remember that presentation is not because the topic was the most compelling.
Captivating speakers give memorable presentations. It’s not easy to be memorable in a good way, but it’s not rocket science either, and it doesn’t take raw, natural talent. That’s right, you don’t have to be a natural orator to captivate your audience. What you do need are skills and preparation.
Let’s assume that you prepared a thoroughly researched presentation, and your visuals follow best practices for business presentations. The venue is comfortable, the sound system top-notch, the coffee fresh roasted. It’s all up to you now. Remember to:
1. Make Eye Contact
Would you buy a car from someone who wouldn’t look you in the eye? Of course not! Without eye contact there’s no trust. When giving a speech, your eyes can’t be buried in your notes or fixed on the screen. You need to look at the audience--at individuals in the audience. For example, make a statement and ask for confirmation from someone in the front row. Nod your head to someone and ask if they agree. Be sure to select someone who has been giving you positive feedback. You’ll know who’s on your side by the cues they’ve been sending such as, nodding heads or smiles, which you picked up on by making eye contact. Think of this as your opportunity to break momentarily from your presentation for a 1-to-1 conversation. It does wonders for your ability to connect to the audience.
Simple, but some speakers forget to smile when addressing a group. Credibility and solemnity do not have to go together. When you smile your body automatically relaxes. When you relax, your audience relaxes. Obviously, you don’t want to have a big grin on your face if you’re delivering bad news or if it’s a very serious topic.
3. Enjoy Yourself
Really! Forget that public speaking is “supposed” to be stress-inducing. If you know your topic and believe what you are saying, there’s no reason why you can’t “go with the flow” and enjoy the experience. Give yourself permission to loosen up and stop worrying about what the audience is thinking. They’re most likely thinking they are glad it isn’t them up there speaking in public!
4. Speak in an Energetic Voice
Remember the teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? He calls for questions in a manner that can only be described as a deadly monotone. Not a single student pays him any attention—not one! Don’t be the speaker that induces narcolepsy in everyone but him or herself. Speak naturally, change inflection, and breathe. Fill the space with your voice and be sure to speak up so everyone can hear your commitment to your topic.
Follow these tips and everyone will be able to relax and pay attention to the content of your presentation.
For more information and tips on creating and making memorable presentations, check out our courses on Creating Memorable Presentations Anywhere, Delivering Memorable Presentations Anywhere and Executive Presentation Skills Anywhere.
About the Author
Jim Moushon is a Senior Master Trainer at Communispond. Jim's areas of expertise are in executive coaching, presentation skills, media interviews, persuasive dialogue, interpersonal communication, business writing and sales effectiveness. In addition, he does train-the-trainer for Communispond as well as for many of Communispond's clients.
You can connect with Jim on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-moushon-b33b1810/