Presenting in front of an audience, big or small, can be challenging for a lot of people. You think about what can go wrong, questions you may not know the answer to, or someone in the audience who makes you sweat. This thinking causes stress. It is unproductive and eventually causes burnout. It’s important to turn this thinking into productive thinking that will help you improve presentation skills over time. How do you do it?
Well, you probably know how you want to show up and you have seen what good looks like. You may have leaders you look up to or public speakers that inspire and motivate you. If you don’t, find some or ask others who they admire. The question then becomes, what presentation skills do those speakers have and how can you master them yourself? Start watching them. Observe their voice and physical cues. Listen to their message. When you do this, you will accelerate your own growth.
Now that you have a picture of success in mind, go into your own experience with the right mindset and plan better from the start. Poor planning and stressful thinking only distracts you from delivering the message you want your listeners to hear. Learn how to give a good presentation by preparing in these 3 areas: audience perspective, confident mindset, and dynamic facilitation.
1. Prepare with the Audience in Mind
What would be important to you if you were sitting in their seat? It’s not about you, it’s about them. Your audience will engage more and respond better to a message that is tailored to them.
You will first need to evaluate someone’s will and skill to know what type of message to deliver. Skill is their ability to complete a task and will is their willingness to actually do it. Willingness could be a matter of excitement, available time, seeing something as a priority, or believing there are enough resources.
Combined, will and skill are what drive their motivation. If they already know a lot about the topic and are excited about it, not much needs to be said. They will be ready to act if you tell them what needs to be accomplished. If they know very little and don’t understand why it’s important, you’ll need to expand their thinking with more detail and specific next steps.
Once you evaluate someone’s motivation, complete a comprehensive analysis of where your listeners stand. Use the simple acronym, KNOW.
What do they already Know?
What do they Need to know to make the right decision or action?
What is their Opinion? What do they already believe?
What do they Want and dream of?
You may find yourself anxious about the unknown questions that you could be asked. Addressing roadblocks and objections ahead of time, prepares you to answer these concerns in the moment. You want objections to come out. Be delighted by them. Be curious about them. It is these questions and objections that allow you to align your thinking to theirs.