How To Get Your Audiences’ Attention…
and keep it!
Because today’s employees must be multi-faceted in order to support today’s fast changing organizations and markets.
If you properly prepare for your presentation, you will release your fears by 90%. When you are truly prepared, you are fully engaged so that you “own” the content. For those who present a subject that you did not write, you can still “own” the content if you know it well and can tell it like a story.
Preparation is key when preparing for a presentation. When I talk about preparing for a presentation, I always reference it to painting a room. Painting the room is really the easy part (presenting), it’s all the prep that goes into presenting that is tedious and time consuming; however, if you get the right equipment, select the right colors, cover all the furniture and tape-off the trim, then painting is a breeze, even the trim work!
The same is true when preparing a presentation. If you do all the prep-work such as organize your thoughts, have an outcome in mind, know where you will enter the stage, ensure your PowerPoint is in order to tell your story, dress appropriately to support your message, and much, much more, then the actual presentation will be much easier and less taxing on the nerves.
Have a Purpose!
The VERY FIRST thing that you want to do is have a PURPOSE. Ask yourself, “What is the desired outcome form your presentation”? Do you want the audience to think differently, take some type of action, or sign on the dotted line? Once you know this, then everything you do from there on should be to ensure that your purpose is obtainable.
Next, you should know the following before putting finger tips to keyboard.
What is the number of people attending and location? This can help determine if you need a microphone, do you need to sit or stand and where, as well as how you are going to deliver the message; PowerPoint or handouts.
Knowledge Base of Topic: How well do you know the topic? Do you need to do extra research to support your information? Perhaps you did not write the speech, therefore you want to learn as much as possible so you can to “own” the message, although you did not write it.
Audience’s Desire: Is your audience there on their free-will or are they prisoners, so to speak, as the company has requested their attendance? Prisoners often time has resistance, so your opening is key to draw them in to listen to you.
How much time do you have? 20 minutes or an hour. This can help drive your content and help you stay on purpose.
Know your demographics. What is their age, occupation, position, ethnic or cultural background, gender, and education background? All these factors will impact what you say and help determine the examples that you use during the presentation.
For example, if your audience are new graduates from college and they are attending an orientation for new hires, you would want to reference their experience while in school and their new journey, not talk just about the company. Give them a reference.
There are two parts to packaging a presentation. Yourself, and the presentation’s contents. First, let’s take a look at packaging yourself.
Knowing how to dress to support the message of the presentation is very important. Think of a movie at the theater. Before the movie begins, the room is dark and music starts to play, then the film starts. If you are watching a horror movie and the opening song was from a smooth jazz genre, it would not connect. The same is true for your presence.
If your presentation is that of a serious tone and you walk in dressed more causally or sporty, there would be a disconnect. Your look must “set-the-tone” for what is to come.
To help you ensure your image supports the message, CHUVA created the following:
Reviewing the circumstances of the presentation, the purpose and the relationship with attendees or all those involved will help determine if you want to project a more authoritative or approachable presence. You can think of authoritative as more formal and approachable as more casual.
Here are a few suggestions when planning on what to wear for your presentation.
PACKAGE: the presentation
This aspect of giving a successful presentation is how it is packaged. How does your PowerPoint look? Are you using the company’s templates to ensure consistency? Are you using proper fonts and colors as well? Then there are the collaterals. When do you deliver them, prior to the presentation or during the presentation? Do you have someone do that for you, or do it yourself?
The lighting in the room. Is it too bright or too dark? What about the table covers, if any? Are you starting to see how all these aspects are part of packaging the presentation? Everything should be consistent when ensuring that you package it “all” correctly!
Most presenters know his or her content. And once he or she is in their sweet spot, the presentation goes well most of the time. So why does it oftentimes go so wrong? Because, a clear opening has not been established. An opening has to get the audiences’ attention within the first few seconds. Once you have their attention, you need to keep it with the content that you are presenting and then close with a big bang!
At CHUVA we refer to the opening, content delivery and closing to that of an attorney in court. There’s the opening statement and the closing argument. At CHUVA, we created eight opening statement options and nine closing options.
Look back at how I started this blog “If public speaking has been determined as a person’s number one fear over death, then why would anyone want to learn how to do it?”
This is a rhetorical statement. And if you are reading this because you want to learn how to give a great presentation that hopefully got you to say, “Yeah, why do I have to do that”? It got (I hope) your attention to read further. We always open with this statement when we are conducting a presentation skills course.
If you read our blog about “The Personal Branding Wheel: how to get started building your personal brand”, you might recall that we talk about your behavior and those driving forces that drive you to do what you do. As in communications, knowing these disciplines will help you with your “green-flags” and “red-flags” when it comes to developing and delivering a presentation.
For example, we had a client that was a “High-C”, all about facts, data, rules and regulations. He was to present to the C-suite, with the purpose of allotting $250,000.00 for a training and development university. When he started, he had slides full of “data”. Not to mention that his delivery was not very animated and was not full of excitement, as this is a trait of “high-C” styles. You see, he wanted to justify to the audience why they needed the money. I said to him that they don’t care about all that nor do they have the time. All they want to know is how much is it going to cost and what will you have to show for it.
From there, we deleted about 30 slides and narrowed down his message that could be clearly understood. Can you see how your behavioral style can be a green-flag or a red-flag when it comes to preparing and delivering a presentation? If you know both well, you can reduce a great deal of stress from the start! It was now time to work on his delivery.
From the example above, we could not work on Tom’s
delivery until he owned the message. You can do all the technical body language and positioning you want, but if you don’t “own” it first, that work is null and void. When you “own” something, you become passion about it and your body language will naturally show that passion. For some, one might need to add a little more flair, for others, one might need to town-it-down a bit. That’s true delivery.
When we were working with ESPN’s account executives, part of the program was on presentation skills. These folks were so smart and so talented, and they moved really, really, fast, as that was the nature of their business.
We started out by having them come prepared to give a presentation to the attendees in the class. After the first two finished, we stopped the class. Our VP of Operations, Ricardo Cunha, stopped and asked the two why they just stood next to the screen and not moved or anything. I mean this group, for the most part, was animated and expressive.
There response was that they had taken a course on presentation skills in the past and the instructor told them to stand next to the screen or on stage to not compete with the slides by moving around. I ask you this. Who is making the presentation, the person or the slides? Exactly. We told them to forget all of that, and to do what came natural to them, and they did, and it was quit an improvement.
The key word is natural. You should take what’s natural to you and see what needs to be modified if anything to get your message across.
Once you know your content and are comfortable with it, then begin working on your delivery. Here are some key thoughts:
- Entering the Stage
Regardless of the environment, determine the best way to enter the stage. If it is a small room, would you stand in the beginning and then sit? Know the environment.
- Create Energy
Fifty-eight percent of how you convey your attitude is with your body. Your body language should support, not negate what you are saying. For example, you can use emblems such as the okay sign to reinforce when you say okay. Or you might hold up three fingers when you say something to the effect, “There are three items you need to review first before doing XYZ.”
You can use your entire body to send a message. For example, you can move from side-to-side of the room or stage to keep the energy going, or you can simply stand in one place and move your upper body in a different direction to shift the energy.
It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Thirty-eight percent of delivering your message is with your tone. If you are more extroverted, you might need to “tone-it-down a bit”; however, if you are more introverted, you might need to create more excitement with your tone.
Or you might want to emphasize a point with a word. In this case, you would have an inflection in your voice by raising your volume just a bit.
The words you say contribute to seven percent of the message. You still need to choose your words wisely; however, how you bring those words to life will come from your body and tone!
The closing is important. Keep in mind that although may have planned for a closing, due to the content, questions and direction it took, you might need to change the closing. We use the same opening options; however, with one addition, “Homework”.
When you close a presentation always give the audience a homework. It can be as simple as ask them the next time they listen to a presentation to observe if the opening got his or her attention. Or you might tell them that when they return to their office to list three things on their sticky note that they are going to differently or better in how they lead their team.
Your subject matter and purpose will determine your homework.
Whether you are responsible for making a presentation on budget considerations, new product development, or company policies and procedures, include some of these suggestions and tips and hopefully they can help reduce any fear you might have and actually get your audience’s attention and keep it!
To read more blogs on the topics of Presentation Skills, click here. Keep in mind that we are constantly adding new blogs so be sure to check back!
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