4 quick tips to make presenting simple
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Are you ready for your TED talk? In the expert hands of John Bates of Executive Speaking Success, you could be. I had the pleasure of hearing Bates, who specializes in helping people convey their stories in a TED-ready format, speak at a recent Women in Technology International event.
Bates was inspiring and provided a great deal of practical advice that could be applied to almost any speaking situation. I applied the following four tips to a meeting I had with a potential new client the next day.
1. Tell a story
A critical part of being authentic on stage is being honest with yourself about your story. Bates is a master at helping you figure out what your story is and how to tell it. But the basic premise is this: Include lessons learned in life. Everyone can relate to a time when things did not go as planned. Share that experience, how you got through it and what the lessons are that you learned.
With my potential new client, I explained a troubling situation I had been through in my own business that related to the issue with which I was proposing to help him. Instead of it seeming like I was sharing a failure — which is what it felt like to me — it ended up showing the client I had been down this road before, knew the problems that lie ahead and was ready to handle them.
2. Be responsible for what they hear
The easiest way to understand this is to imagine or think back to a time when you were quoted by a journalist. Did they get it exactly right? Probably not, but you can take responsibility for that and ensure that you are quoted accurately. The same goes with your audience: Do what you have to do to make sure the audience leaves with the message you intend for them to hear.
In my case, I wanted my potential client to be clear about what I could do for him and how my services differentiated me from my competitors. I ensured he knew by asking questions, rephrasing and sticking to key phrases that were easy to remember and repeat.
3. Remember, you are performing
As William Shakespeare wrote, all the world is a stage, and we are all merely players. This is particularly true when you are actually on stage presenting, but also holds true when you are at the front of the room or temporarily in the spotlight at a meeting. Understand the role you and those around you are playing, and use that to ensure you are conveying your information in the way you intend it to be heard.
With my potential new client, I wanted to play the role of confidential support person and believed they were playing the role of someone who had been looking for a confidential support person. By staying focused on our roles, it helped me keep the conversation on target.
Who are you paying attention to? Are you worried about what you are saying and how you are presenting? Your speed, content, hand positions? Stop. You should be worried about the audience not yourself.
Once I had cast the roles, I continued to remind myself that I was there for him; it was not for me to worry about my presentation. Instead, the time I was with the potential client was for me to truly listen confidentially, support him in his process and show — not tell him — how I was the right one to help.
Whether it is a formal talk, a business development meeting or a status update, try applying some of these simple rules to your next presentation. While you are at it, watch a few TED talks and start thinking about your story.
You might just find you are ready to start prepping for your time on stage.
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