Bereid je luidop voor

Afgelopen donderdag deed ik een presentatie in Nederland. Ik was de laatste spreker net voor de middag en had heel veel geluk dat er een dagvoorzitter was die ervoor zorgde dat iedereen zich aan de afgesproken tijd hield. De spreker voor mij had al teken gekregen dat hij moest afronden. Tot 2 keer toe zei hij zelfs ‘ik moet hier blijkbaar afronden’ en hij bleef maar verder praten.

Ik begreep wel zijn probleem. Het was duidelijk dat hij vlug nog zijn laatste slides wou tonen want daar zaten zijn belangrijkste boodschappen. Dus: verdeel jouw boodschappen als rode draad doorheen de presentatie en bereid het LUIDOP voor. Dit is echt de enige manier om je aan de afgesproken tijd te houden!

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Give the audience what they want!

Yesterday I heard a great story from a manager at the European Commission. He was invited to be one of the speakers at a conference in the South of France. He was originally speaker number10…but the organisation had decided at the last moment to let the mayor speak as well which made him speaker n°11. When it was his turn, obviously, they were way out of time but they still wanted him to do the presentation. It was late, it was sunny, people were hungry… so he decided not to do his prepared presentation. Instead he simply asked whether the audience had any questions they absolutely wanted an answer to. There were quite some questions, he answered them, and that was it. Afterwards he was congratulated for his marvelous presentation and he was referred to as ‘the guy who didn’t present’… and they ALL remembered him!

The reason why I love my job…

For the first time in the 11 years that I give training in presentation skills I got all emotional yesterday… I had a workshop for 11 people. One of the participants, Paul, didn’t like to present at all and that showed in his first exercise. He did not look at the audience at all though focussed on the ground, and he had this nervous twitch around his eyes. Although during this first exercise I could tell that in fact he is a great storyteller. Before the second exercise I had explained the importance to connect with the audience and how to do that. That second exercise was all about introducing your topic for which they had received my presentation model. Paul waited very long to do his exercise but when he came on stage….it was amazing. He actually looked at the audience and I couldn’t have done the introduction better myself (I told you he was a storyteller and that really works…). When his exercise was nearly finished I could feel tears in my eyes as I was so happy for him which made me happy. Thank you Paul…

‘Embrace’ the energy of your audience

Believe it or not, the easiest thing you can do when confronting an audience is to stand as close to them as possible. It might sound frightening but just try it out…. Every audience has an energy and most of the time they are really positive and want you to succeed. Use that positive energy, embrace it and feel one with them. It is no you and them, try to find an ‘us’ when you present. This is wonderfully demonstrated by Benjamin Zandler.

The power of metaphores

I had the pleasure to see Jef Staes presenting this week! What a speaker… But what strikes me most is this: he sinned against so many ‘presentation rules’ and still managed to leave a lasting impression. He sat down, something I would never recommend. He didn’t have the most exciting start using even hesitant words. But he did one thing that was extremely strong: his whole speech was one long metaphore (comparison he made with sheep in all its forms) and I’m sure everyone in the audience still remembers what his core messages were. So far for presentation techniques…

Watch your language!

Today I heard it yet again: these awful minimizing sentences such as ‘today I am going to talk to you a little bit about’ or ‘I will try to explain to you today’. What do you think about ‘Maybe I will go to the next slide now’… and it goes on and on. It is not only the inconfident speakers who use these sentences, it is like a presentation habit. Beware of language like that! It literally minimizes your presentation. It can help reahearsing aloud and be very conscious of your language.

Use conversational language

This is a presentation tip from presentation coach Olivia Mitchell. Her advice is to use conversational language and as I completely agree with her I will explain what it means.

Language you use daily in conversations is what we’re most used to listening to. We find it much easier to stay focused on somebody who’s talking in a conversational tone. Listening to somebody using a lecture tone is very tiring. Though how can you be conversational in a presentation? 

If you write a script, say what you want to say out loud and then write it down. That way what you write will be conversational in tone. However, it’s better not to write a script at all. Write keywords and phrases which will remind you of what you want to say. 

When you’re delivering your presentation, look at someone and talk as if you were talking just to them. Talk to them for a few seconds (not so long that they’ll be intimidated) and then ‘pingpong’ to someone else. Olivia calls this call this eye connection. Use eye connection rather than eye contact and you’ll be more conversational.

Just talk to them!

It is the strangest thing but when people come in front of an audience, they change their speech style. It is as if they have an internal switch that says ‘change to presentation mode’. The main problem is that it oftens looks unnatural with a kind of formal speech style. Recently in a coaching session I witnessed that same change. I asked that person to begin the presentation again but this time talking as if you are not in front of an audience . Imagine you are just in front of some friends and you just talk to them . The change in style was huge. It was much more natural, in speech and look. So my advise is when you come in front of an audience: ‘just talk to them!’