by Stephanie Bickel
Watching masterful presenters with strong leadership communication skills can make someone feel as though they should be able to easily do the same. It comes so naturally to them. They speak with poise and confidence, and with inspiration to move any audience. And, more often than not, when they are asked how they became great, they respond with one word…practice.
There are a few common needs that we come across in those seeking communication consulting. One is the need for simplicity. The challenge people have is cutting through the clutter to be able to focus on one topic. Some begin to ramble and overtalk because they are so passionate about their subject. Or, their level of detail begins to confuse people when they speak. When this happens, we reduce our efficiency and the impact is lost. Another need is the desire to become a good role model for their organization. People want to demonstrate their leadership potential and get others to align with their ideas, but they don’t know how to position messages for acceptance.
Don’t try to tackle all your needs at once. Leadership communication skills are developed over time. Try to focus on making small changes in your presentation skills to make a big difference over time. It is more than just the words you say. Think about how you look, how you sound, and how you put your thoughts together. Public speaking and leadership go hand-in-hand, so mastering these skills is a must.
To improve presentation skills, we recommend implementing these 5 best practices for immediate impact:
1. Only focus on 1 main idea
Start with the “so what?” or the answer to your audience’s question. Why do they need to listen to you? Are you answering a “what”, “how”, or “why” question? Your main idea or governing thought can have 3 sub-points, but it must all be linked to and follow that one core idea.
2. Practice it out loud at least 5 times
The only way to become great is to practice. Say it out loud. Look in a mirror. Use gestures. Record yourself on a smart phone and play it back while you are on a walk or a drive. The more you say your message, the more confident you become.
3. Connect your message to a higher purpose
When you are able connect to a source of meaning, your passion will naturally come through. Think about how your message links to personal values or the kind of society you want to build.
4. Make your audience feel smart, successful, popular, attractive, and high principled
Find ways to make others feel great about their contributions. When you can make someone feel smart, successful popular, and high principled, they will feel respected and important. As a result, they will be more engaged and eager to participate.
5. End strong
Leave your audience with something to remember. It must be a message that inspires them to take action. You can tell a story that emphasizes your theme, project into the future, loop back to the beginning, summarize the key points, or give a call to action. Make it very clear what they should be thinking and doing next.
Becoming a masterful presenter is an art that needs time and attention. Don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to change everything overnight. Keep it simple. Choose one area to practice in an upcoming meeting to improve your presentation skills over time. When you practice, you are creating muscle memory. And that muscle memory is what helps you create lasting habits.
If you don’t feel like you can do it on your own, invest in presentation skills training to help you conquer your goals. Presentation skills coaches and trainers can be the support you need to convey your confidence, health, and authority to others.
Developing leadership communication skills has never been easier. So, take risks. Push yourself outside your comfort zone. But don’t lose sight of who you are, because the authentic you is a believable you. And that believable you is what connects you to your audience and inspires change.
Fast track your career path. Speak by Design University is a one-of-a-kind leadership communication program. It’s the only leadership communication program in the world that gives you access to self-paced learning, group coaching and training and, most importantly, private one-on-one coaching. Learn more and register.