We’ve been training professionals to communicate effectively and interact in their presentations for years; engaging others is the foundation of good communications, good marketing and sales, great fundraising, teaching, persuading and inspiring. Yet people who may do this in everyday conversations normally seem to forget to interact in a presentation, meeting or talk. All too often clients tell me that they used to go into ‘tell’ mode (which they’d never dream of doing if they were in a “normal” conversation). They look like they are pushing their information at people. This is a very old-fashioned approach, yet it is rife in organisations – large and small alike – in the UK and across the Western world. We all tend to prefer an approach that pulls us in because of not many of us like being spoken at or told what to do!
Instead, High-Performance Presentations (as described in the book of the same name) work brilliantly when they engage the audience when they ‘pull’ them in, so they want to listen and are almost asking you for more. To be more engaging then fundamentally you need to plan your presentations around what the audience wants to hear and this is exactly what we cover in our “Present Like a Pro” programme.
The foundation to audience interaction is to develop your presentation with an audience focussed approach using the Simply Amazing Structure. Once you’ve mastered that you are ready to read on and learn three of our insider secrets to overt advanced audience interaction below (more covert techniques will be covered in a later blog – keep your eyes peeled!)
Different people in your audience will have different levels of experience, understanding or buy-in. For you to interact with them well, you need to know where they are starting from in their “journey”.
You can ask the audience questions that help you tailor your content to where they are in that moment. For example, plenty of clients come to learn how to give an influential sales pitch and as part of that we might suggest they ask a question like..
British audiences don’t tend to be fans of interacting (we like to be reserved!). To create an environment where even us Brits feel comfortable you must encourage the audience and lead by example.
For example, if you ask “how many people here are already using X product?”
Encourage people to engage and pop their hands up too by:
Never leave people out of your interactions – ensure everyone in the audience is involved by asking the question you want to ask, and then the opposite question too.
For example, you might want to ask, “who here has completed their prep work?”
“and who here hasn’t yet had a chance to do their prep work yet?”
And finally – You want to aim for 100% of the audience to have raised their hands – to do that you may need to improvise to include the others – for example:
“and who’s not going to raise their hands whatever I ask!”
There is plenty more information on audience interaction including more subtle covert interaction techniques in our book High-Performance Presentations and in our training courses.
If you would like to learn how to improve your presentations skills then take a look at our presentation training courses or contact us today to talk through any questions you may have. We work with individuals and teams offering presentation courses with fast results to step-change your results.
As technology improves and travel budgets decrease, virtual meetings have become almost the norm, especially for younger generations who use this type of technology in their daily lives anyway. If you have a virtual meeting coming up and need to give a presentation, here are our top tips for giving a virtual meeting presentation.
Virtual meeting Tip #1 – Make sure the technology works!
According to the Productivity at the Office report by Jabra (2015): “Over half (51 percent) of respondents agree that meetings without direction or a clear agenda lead to wasted meeting time, 32 percent cite lack of decision-making, 31 percent cite lack of follow-up, 26 percent a lack of preparation and 25 percent the effect of latecomers.”
In a conference call situation specifically, the survey says: “some of the most annoying issues are due to sound, whether not being able to hear people’s voices, irrelevant background noise, connection issues, overall audio quality or not knowing if speakerphones are working as intended.”
Virtual meeting tip #2 – Make conference calls engaging!
Conference calls or video calls need an extra special effort to be engaging and easy to listen to because you have no (or less) body language to help your message be understood.
Virtual meeting tip #3 – Have a clear structure
Use the Simply Amazing Structure (SAS) to guide your call content, otherwise, it’s easy for the listener to get lost. You may benefit from breaking your SAS into even smaller chunks than you would with a face-to-face meeting. Try not to cover too much in one call. As you come to the end, ensure people have committed to their action/deadlines rather than assuming they have, and when you are fielding questions having a helper to group any questions that are sent in while you answer others is useful.
For more tips and techniques on making conference calls effective and engaging, and for ideas on where specifically your “Presenter Personality Style” could improve in the context of virtual meeting presentations, discover more about our tailored one to one presentation skills mentoring, or read “High-Performance Presentations – Public Speaking Tips & Presentation Skills to Engage, Persuade and Inspire!” by Dee Clayton or contact us today!
Understanding who your audience is is essential, and all High-Performance Presentations consider the audience and what they want. Having said that, many of the business professionals we train admit they hardly ever consider the audience during their presentation planning – at least, until they learn about why it is so important from us!
It is important to balance out your needs with the needs of the audience. If you want to communicate in a successful, persuasive manner that inspires action, then the audience should never feel that your agenda is higher than theirs! This links back to the push vs. pull concept mentioned in Chapter 1 of Dee’s book “High-Performance Presentations – Public Speaking Tips & Presentation Skills to Engage, Persuade and Inspire!”
As Dee says: “A sure-fire way to give a Low-Performance Presentation is to just talk about your agenda with no regard to the audience. Avoid recycling the same presentation deck and droning on about things that aren’t relevant to the audience. The audience won’t say anything – but therein lies the danger as you continue to do it again and again.”
The first step is to recognise your preferred presenter personality style and then to adapt to the styles that aren’t the same as yours. The audience will take information on board in a different way to you – make sure you give the audience what they want in the manner in which they want it.
In reality, your audience is likely to be made of a mix of these styles so pay special attention to the areas you tend to be weakest!
In the book, there are more exercises that will help you ensure your Audience Preparation stage goes well before you move on to learn about using the Simply Amazing Structure (SAS). And all this is way before even touching a PowerPoint presentation or PC!
Happy presentation preparation!
In order to give High-Performance Presentations every time, you need to base it on your personality.
There are four Presenter Personality Styles which are explored in Dee Clayton’s new book “High-Performance Presentations – Public Speaking Tips and Presentations Skills to Engage, Persuade and Inspire!”
The book is based on our Presentation Strengths & Weaknesses Identifier, an in-depth look at your presentation style, with coaching to help you improve your performance. A short quiz will help you assess your style preferences so you are aware of both your strengths and weaknesses. It then details how you can use this information to develop a successful presentation style that to suit your personality.
Here’s a taster of the different presenter personality styles discussed in the book:
Introversion, as identified by Carl Jung, is about how people prefer to “recharging their batteries”. To increase your energy levels do you prefer time for yourself (introversion preference) or being with others/groups (extroversion preference)?
Both Caring & Information styles tend to be more suited to introverts who like to spend their energy thinking about concepts and ideas in depth.
This style uses feelings, not just facts, to persuade others. Presenters are more likely to be relaxed, informal, patient and agreeable.
You may find it beneficial to work on your “Presenter Stance”: click here for tips on body language.
Extroverts gain energy doing things and spending time with people and tend to focus less on the details. Their Presenter Personality styles are Results and Sociable.
This style is used by extroverts who like to present brief top line facts and then move onto the next thing.
Top tip: Work on your planning, structure and delivery so that everyone in the audience can come along on the journey with you. This would translate into even better results, such as sales or sign-ups.
For the extrovert who loves presenting, persuading their audience with feelings, not just facts. They like presentations to be light-hearted, entertaining and fun.
Top tip: You may find it beneficial to live and breathe the concept that “the presentation isn’t about you, it’s about the audience”. Take particular note of the Audience Preparation section and the Simply Amazing Structure (SAS) chapters in Dee’s book.
Monkey isn’t really a Presenter Personality Style but we include it for people who are nervous about presenting. If presenting is part of your job, then it’s time to get over your fear now! Once you’re confident, you may even enjoy it! Get started using Dee Clayton’s other book “Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys” to overcome that fear, or book onto a programme with us.
These styles are generalised, so not everything about the type will suit you. It is, however, a useful starting point, allowing you to tailor your approach. If you would like more help with a qualified coach, check out our presentation skills training courses.
Rightly or wrongly, human nature drives us to follow (and trust) high-impact or “high-status” individuals, so if you want to influence and persuade, having a good presentation posture and avoiding unconscious low-status body language is a good idea. When you stand with a strong presentation posture you feel calm and confident inside, and once this happens, the audience can’t help but sense that from you and see it in you. (The opposite is also true that if you look scared and nervous the audience will see that and feel that too).
In my book “High-Performance Presentations” I use an example of a king posture and jester (joker) posture. Look at the king’s body language in the illustration and notice how it conveys high status – he’s standing up straight and either not moving or moving slowly, and his hands would remain mostly still.
Now compare that to the jester – he’s always moving around, hopping from one foot to another and waving his hands and arms in the air. He may be funny and the audience may well laugh, but is he conveying high status? Are people really listening to his message?
Good body language is critical to a confident calm and clear presentation. If you want to improve your presentation skills, here are a few basic exercises which will help.
During our presentation skills one to one training we show our participants a good neutral standing posture which makes you feel confident inside and look and sound confident outside. We’ve created the “How to stand when giving a presentation” video to give you a feel for what we teach our clients and there is an exercise below so you can practise it right now. And if you want to learn these techniques in person, this and more is covered in our Level 1: One to One Presentation Skills Training Course.
Before we look at breathing and voice projection and tips on confident facial expressions when giving a presentation let’s look at presentation posture/position and where to put your hands during a presentation.
During our presentation skills one-to-one training, we teach a good neutral standing posture which makes you feel confident inside, and look and sound confident outside. Have a look at our “How to…presentation posture/position” video to give you a feel for it, then practise this exercise below. This is just one of the techniques covered in our One to One Presentation Skills Training Course.
If you hunch over the PC for far too long each day you may want to practise this every day anyway!
Before we show you how you can use your hands when presenting, first I want to show you how to NOT use your hands when presenting! It may seem unusual but I’m always telling clients to keep their hands still by their side whilst they learn the body language basics. Why? Untrained people are very likely to use their hands incorrectly meaning they send the opposite message with their body language than that intended. If the words you are saying don’t match up to the message you are giving with your body language, at best, you look inconsistent and, at worst, untrustworthy.
I suggest you practise using very minimal hand movements by filming yourself. Try this:
How you can use your hands during a presentation
In the book High-Performance Presentations, I talk further about ensuring you keep your hands still and then when you do use hand movements you do make are correct, conscious and clear. And for now, watch this video “where to put hands during a presentation” where I show you how hands are great for counting your 3 key points on (and how to do it in a manner that avoids random flying round of offensive fingers!) You’ll also see how to represent two parties coming together using your hands and more tips.
Breathing and voice projection is vital to your presentation. Experiencing breathlessness and speaking too quickly is a common problem for anxious presenters. I want to share some useful techniques when giving a presentation that aid calm and confident performances.
The main reasons for getting out of breath when giving a presentation are:
We all know how to breathe, but the chances are unless we are musicians, singers, athletes or completed some presentation skills training, we’ve ‘forgotten’ how to control our breath – and that’s something that makes a huge difference to our presentations.
Your breathing plays a huge role in the success of your presentation. Slow and measured breathing is characteristic of control and that’s you want. Prepared, ready and in control.
Once you’ve got it right, your breathing will be even and you’ll be able to project more effectively. You’ll also find that your breath will last longer, so no embarrassing gasping or breathlessness.
Prior to going your presentation I always recommend you centre yourself with your breathing; a great little exercise to do this takes 3 deep breaths followed by one normal breath.
During your presentation, regulating your breathing is a great way to regulate your talking speed. If you start speaking too quickly, take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, then a normal breath, and continue. (If you’re wearing a microphone, do it quietly – as you don’t want to sound like Darth Vader)! You can disguise this action if you want to, by taking a moment to check your notes.
Finally, good posture and body language are critical to ensuring you stand up straight, open your windpipe and can breathe easily. You won’t suffer from shortness of breath and you’ll add to your calm composure. A good presentation posture also leads to better voice production and projection so you don’t have to shout to be heard.
Think about the speakers you admire, and you’ll notice that they share a common trait: they have all mastered how to use effective pauses. The humble pause is often overlooked, but it really shouldn’t be underestimated. It serves an important purpose for you as a presenter and also for your audience. Remembering to pause ensures you come across as a calm, experienced speaker; it can help eliminate ums and ers; and it keeps your audience interested, alert and engaged.
Here are some of the ways you can use pauses to maximum effect:
A common public speaking problem is when the speaker launches straight into their talk. A combination of nerves and rushing to start leaves them breathless, and they spend the rest of their talk chasing their breath. This puts them and the audience on edge. It’s important to take a moment before you begin – to pause, breathe and look at your audience before getting started.
Pausing after a key point will allow the audience time to reflect and process what you have said. If your audience’s first language isn’t English, you will also need to add translation time into the mix before they have a chance to digest what you have said.
Pauses make you look like a confident and calm speaker. They also prevent you from using filler words too much, such as ‘um’ and ‘er.’
Sometimes if speakers haven’t “Tamed Their Public Speaking Monkeys” they are so intent on racing through to the end of their talk that they forget all about the poor audience. Or sometimes adrenaline speeds things up without them even realising. You have undoubtedly heard your presentation many, many times, but it’s likely to be the first time your audience has heard it. They need time to process rapid speech, so use spacer pauses to separate one thought from the next.
Don’t rush through your key points – they are important, so give them the space they need. Pausing before a key point will increase tension and add emphasis.
Many speakers use questions – or tag questions – to engage with their audience. But if you ask a question then move on without a pause, it seems insincere. Think of your talk as a real conversation, and allow time for a response. Whether your audience does actually answer or not, it has to feel genuine and not like a gimmick.
We’ll leave you with the wise words of Mark Twain, who once said: “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” See…silence really can be golden.
The presentation is your chance to shine. You are away from the constraints of just answering questions.
“What’s your X-Factor?”
Treat it as your opportunity to show others what makes you unique.
Always read the brief carefully before beginning – like reading an exam paper properly. Make sure you know how long you have to present and if it includes time for questions. Check any terminology and consider what equipment or props you may need. Consider what their purpose is for setting this task and what they are looking for.
Do your research. Research the organisation or department and the key positions. Research the people on the panel if possible and of course the position. Know the job description thoroughly and understand any key competencies they are looking for. Match your personal strengths to the key competencies required in the role.
Tame your “Public Speaking Monkeys”. Ensure nerves don’t get the best of you and you can represent your best self.
See things from their point of view. Consider what problems the organisation or role may face.
Demonstrate you understand and have the solutions they need, or at least the right attitude to address the challenges and start to solve problems.
What benefits do you bring to the organisation or role? What can you help them to achieve or gain that others can’t? Do you have evidence of achieving targets? Will you help the department to improve or better justify the budget?
Preparation is worth its weight in gold. Mind Mapping is a great tool for dumping all your ideas into one place visually. Look at all the information and ideas and narrow them down to three main points. Avoid the temptation of verbal diarrhoea!
Structure your presentation – how will you position your main points? Use examples whenever possible. Telling stories with a beginning middle and end is a great way to convey information that humans naturally tune into.
For each section or point, use our Simply Amazing Structure™ (SAS) summarised below.
Recently we ran an event for the 40 members of the global sales team of a multi-national, working with them to ‘Tame their Public Speaking Monkeys’ and help them increase their confidence when presenting.
The participants travelled to Bournemouth from all round the world and we wanted to present to them in a way to increase their understanding, make it as easy as we could for them to listen, and build rapport with them.
If you are presenting to an audience where you don’t share the same first language and you come from different cultures, there is some additional preparation you can do, and tips you can follow, to make your presentation have impact for everyone.
Do your research – if you know the cultures represented in your audience you can do research, so you learn the best ways to build rapport, and how to avoid causing offence.
Have a clear structure – as always, the structure should be all about what the audience wants and set out so it is easy to follow.
Pace your speech – make sure you speak slowly and clearly, allowing pauses between sentences. You want to allow time for your audience to listen, translate and comprehend. Even if it sounds too slow to you, it won’t be to the audience, so practice speaking slowly.
Check body language and use of hands – some cultures are more animated than others and hand movements will mean different things. The best way to show respect and avoid inadvertently causing offence is to remain still in the presenter stance, which means being well grounded with minimal hand movement.
Avoid humour – what is funny in one culture could cause offence in another so don’t risk humour!
Be careful of jargon and analogies – jargon may not be understood, and they may not be able to identify with analogies. However, if you do have time you could find some relevant analogies you could use to demonstrate you understand their world.
Understand about audience response – in different cultures audiences respond differently. Some show respect or appreciation by becoming animated, others remain calm and still. Do your research to know what to expect so you know when you have built strong rapport and they are engaged.
If you too would like to travel to Bournemouth (although we also deliver training all around the UK) to learn more about these tips and how ‘Taming your Public Speaking Monkeys’ will help you build your confidence when presenting to audiences where you don’t share the same first language, please get in touch with me, Marion Hewitt, today on 07954 331169.
Claire Hartnell from CJ Garden Services based in Chandlers Ford is also a BNI Hampshire Area Director Consultant and emailed us last week. She’s already “Tamed” her monkeys with us last year when she attended our course at The Village hotel in Bournemouth, Dorset. She emailed to say that in a few weeks she’s giving her first conference presentation to 200 people – well done Claire Simply Amazing!! She was asking for advice on using the microphone for the first time so we’ve written a blog to help her and other first time mic users.
How often have you heard someone say ‘Can you all hear me ok?’ What first impression does that give you about the presenter? Plus, if you think about it, there is a total lack of logic in the question!
If you have followed the tips in our last blog you will now know how a microphone will help you when presenting to a larger audience and dealt with those annoying Public Speaking Monkeys that were getting in the way of you being heard. Perhaps you know the ones that are saying things like ‘why would they want to hear you’, ‘your content is boring’ or ‘you’re going to mess up again’?
So now you are a confident public speaker, what next? There are different types of microphone and to add to your presentation skills you need to understand how to get the best out of them.
To find out more about how we can work together so you deliver presentations in a calm and confident way through our award winning Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys programme, give me, Marion Hewitt, a call today, on 07954 331169 for an informal chat. I’d be delighted to work with you in Southampton, Hampshire and I cover other areas in Dorset too.
How you prepare for a presentation, meeting or a project is strongly linked to your colour energy preference. Insights Discovery profiling uses a simple and easy to remember four colour energy model. By discovering whether we have a preference for cool blue, earth green, fiery red or sunshine yellow helps us to understand why we behave the way we do and our strengths and weaknesses.
Cool Blue preference: You are logical, concise and structured. You are often well prepared, but others might say you take too long meaning there isn’t a lot of time left for other things. You may not be very adaptable to last minute changes. You could benefit from applying the 80:20 rule to your preparations.
Fiery Red preference: You are assertive, determined and realistic. You are likely to leave things until the last minute and prefer to skip over the details. Because of your haste you may miss something important or forget to include the ‘people’ element in your preparations. Even if this works for you, it can be stressful for others around you. You could benefit from slowing down, allowing time to look at things from all angles and colour preferences.
Sunshine Yellow preference: You are enthusiastic, impulsive and active. You might not do much preparation because you are good at ‘winging it.’ You may have planned to do one thing and then change your mind at the last minute to do something you think is even better. You could benefit from being more structured in your approach to preparations. If you spend some time planning before jumping in, it will often save time and produce better results in the end.
Earth Green preference: You are accommodating, reflective and reliable. As someone who always thinks of others, you’ll take everyone into account during your preparations. Because you like to be fair and include everyone’s views, your preparations may take a little longer than others. You could probably benefit from thinking a little less about others. Consider if it might be beneficial on some occasions to communicate a stronger single message.
If you know your colour energy and understand how it translates to your behaviour, it provides an opportunity to improve your preparations. This will not only make things easier for you, but those around you. Ultimately, you’ll get improved results.
Find out more about Insights Discovery profiling.
© 2017 Simply Amazing Training Ltd. Company No. 6433631. VAT No. 931704930