by Stephanie Bickel
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.
By starting with KNOW, you will focus on a message that is for your audience, not to your audience. They need to know that you genuinely care about them. When they sense that you are there to help them be successful, you will immediately create a group of followers. This group of followers will see you as a trusted advisor that can’t wait to hear your next idea or solution.
2. Have a Confident Mindset
Demonstrate to your audience that your head is in the right place. If it’s not, your audience will sense it. Your confidence is magnified in how your voice sounds and in how you look in front of a room. Tell yourself that there is no one else better to deliver this message than YOU. You are an expert. You have a perspective that no one else does. Start with believing in YOU!
To shape your mind now, think about the desired future outcome you want. What is the result you seek by the end? Your message should convey a sense of urgency that you want to solve problems immediately. Not tomorrow. Today.
How do you want to feel after the presentation? Be proud that you are providing solutions for some of the most important and challenging issues. If this presentation leads to a wild success - promotion, sales, or new opportunities - who are you when you have achieved that wild success?
Envisioning a future outcome will help you deliver a credible, compelling message that your audience believes. This will build trust and they will emerge from this experience inspired and willing to take action.
3. Use Dynamic Facilitation Techniques
One of the most common questions we receive, especially with moving to virtual platforms, is, “How can I keep my audience engaged?”. To do this, think about the emotions you want your listeners to feel in the beginning, middle, and end of the presentation. This will shape what you need to include throughout the conversation. It’s all about the adventure you want your audience to experience.
What unexpected things do you want to do? Choose several tactics from the list below and prepare for when and how you will use them.
We also know that people want to feel popular, successful, attractive, powerful, smart, and high principled. Where in your presentation do you want your audience to feel each of these emotions? Find a way to resonate with each of them to inspire your listeners to take action now.
To immediately improve presentation skills, you must start with your mindset and put the time into preparation. Your mind will be your anchor and your plan will be the guiding light to lead you to your desired outcome.
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