You've heard it before: before you present, learn as much about the audience as you can. Gaining information about your listeners positions you to know what to say and that which you need to delete from your script. If you proceed with making a presentation without knowing exactly who is in front of you, then it can be like blindly poking and jabbing with your threaded needle in search of the right opening to affix a button. With this presentation preparation, you will know which points you should strongly emphasize, and you will know what might be hot topics that should be avoided. (Of course, politics, religion, and money are always off the table ... unless, of course you are giving something like a financial planning workshop, but I digress. Besides, you know what I mean!) When you learn as much as you can about the audience beforehand, you have a good idea of how much foundational information to provide and how deep of a dive in which you need to go to establish definitions and a framework so everyone is on the same page. Okay. Sounds good, right? But how exactly is that done? There are three stages involved with finding out who will be in your audience and how to work toward tailoring a message that will sew seeds of good ideas and resonate with your participants.
In Fall 2018, one of my first-year college roommates (and for those of you who know me well, no, I'm not talking about my sister-in-law ... for those of you who haven't heard this story, the roommate I had during my second, third, and fourth years of college also became my sister-in-law!), celebrated the release of her first book that is a memoir as well as a tribute to the history of modern soul food.
In it, she includes stories about being in the kitchen with her grandmother, having a high school crush, and growing up in Texas with her two sisters plus over 50 recipes sure to speak to the heart and sufficiently fill the belly. In the fall of 2018, she was invited to an expo to read excerpts from her book and ended up bawling before her audience. BAWLING!
She quickly wrote me, asking if it was normal to feel overwhelmed and to full-on cry during a speaking engagement. I told her ...
It's just talking, right? But it feels like I'm talking to strangers when I'm in an interview. And the pressure mounts even more when there's not one interviewer but three or four!
And some of the questions they ask ... today they are not the typical ones you see online. Sometimes they throw me off my game and ask questions that really seem to require only a one-word answer.
And what about when they ask about weaknesses? I know you're supposed to turn it into a positive, but how does that work?
Oh! And follow-up questions. Sure, I can ask "What is a typical day like in this position?" or "Why do you like working here?" but what else can I ask that will make me sound like the one to hire?
These are the sentiments I've heard from professionals in recent weeks, and I want you to know one thing: I've got you covered. Check out 7 tips that are partially rooted in my philosophy on effective presentation skills because ... well ... an interview is you presenting on the best topic ever, yourself! This is how you show them you are an all-star and that you are unequivocally THE ONE to add to their team!
Did you miss the first 5 things? Check them out HERE! And numbers 6 through 10 are HERE!
11. Never apologize for interrupting/stopping conversations. You have heard a presenter say it; he/she will ask the audience to engage in a conversation about X, Y, or Z, then after a certain amount of time, the presenter will say something along the lines of "I'm so sorry to stop your conversations." This statement is pointless considering these are conversations that must come to an end in order for you to continue with your presentation.
Instead, thank the audience for the robust discussions, then move on with your presentation. Consider saying "Wow! What great conversations! Thank you for engaging. Now to the next point." (Bear in mind you can always evaluate if what you have to say next is as impactful as the conversations. If what the audience is discussing brings more value than the content you had prepared, then consider letting the conversations continue for a few more minutes before continuing with your presentation.)
12. Never diminish your power. For instance, avoid ...
a. saying it's your first time doing anything, e.g., making the presentation, designing a presentation, traveling out of the country, et cetera.
b. saying "I don't know." (Want to know what to say instead? Read this.)
c. folding your arms; remain open and warm. (Check out this post to find out what to do with your arms and hands.)
13. Never position the audience to engage in too much multitasking.
Here's a true story ...
There are those times when you are scheduled to make a presentation, but you simply do not feel up to it. Not at all. Not for a minute. So what do you do? Do you phone it in? Cancel and reschedule? See if you can get a replacement?
Here are real scenarios, most of which I have personally experienced, plus what the best presenters do even in the worst of times. It's tough, but this is the mindset to have when the absolute last thing in the world you want to do is make a presentation!
Even in today's digital society where so much networking takes place online, there are those instances when you have to physically attend networking events. And when you attend networking events, sometimes interacting with others can make you feel like anything but a boss. Some of the challenges you face include but are not limited to trying to find something interesting to say, looking for genuine ways to make newcomers feel welcomed, and finding somewhere to sit down because your feet are killing you! Just kidding ...
When you are networking, you are making a presentation. And no matter your industry or your position, you are an ambassador for your company and, most importantly, for yourself. In this post, you will know how to effortlessly engage with others at networking events with utmost confidence even if you absolutely DREAD small-talk or even if you love small-talk and want some new tactics for making your conversations even more interesting. You will know how to look and sound like an amBOSSador.
Did you miss the first 5 things? Check them out here!
Do you want to see numbers 11 through 15! They're here!
6. Never, after you greet the audience and receive a less than enthusiastic greeting in return, insist on the audience doing a better job of returning your greeting by saying something to the effect of "Come on! You can do better than that!"
a. You have not done anything to get people hyped ... unless you have rock star status. And you immediately make the audience feel inadequate or like it has to do something it really does not want to do.
b. Do not rely on the audience to get you excited. Never make the audience responsible for making you feel welcome and wanted. Get yourself pumped by thinking of the value you're about to bring that's going to rock the house! Think to yourself "Okay. You aren't excited now, but wait until you get a load of this presentation!"
c. Greet everyone, accept the greeting you get in response, then set out to totally wow the crowd. THEN you will see audience excitement go through the roof!
7. Never pose your first question to the audience, then ...
1. Never speak with your back to your audience. Your voice carries in the direction you are facing, and if you are not facing your audience when you speak, then naturally, your audience cannot hear you. Always face your audience when you speak so everyone hears every delicious word you have to offer.
2. Never say ...
Educators find themselves insisting new students make the leap and behave differently, more responsibly, more seriously with regard to their academic ambitions once they enter onto our college campuses. As such, educators can also find themselves in a quandary, convening in the faculty workroom or in online educator forums commiserating with colleagues over new students not rising to the occasion as quickly as they would prefer.
By the time they reach college doors, though, they have been children much longer than they have been adults, and many may have come from the school of thought that children are to be seen and not heard when it comes to engaging in the learning process and education on a whole. How, then, can educators expect thirteen years of habits and expectations to become undone and reworked during the course of, say, one new student orientation session?
Here are three recommendations for educators to help students successfully make the leap and make it in a more timely fashion:
In May of 2018, The BOSS Network conducted a spotlight feature on me. Pretty cool, huh? Here's the post ...
Bridgett McGowen is a published author and an international professional speaker. Prior to launching her public speaking firm, BMcTALKS, LLC, she held positions as an educational technology thought leader and a faculty development consultant with an edtech company and a faculty member for the Texas A&M University System.
1. What were some obstacles that you faced in the beginning process of starting your business or career?
The number one obstacle I faced in the beginning process of starting my public speaking and presentation skills coaching firm, BMcTALKS, LLC, was knowing WHERE to start. Do I need a website? Should I speak for free? Do I form an LLC? The questions went on and on. I resolved I would take it one step at a time; engage with others who were once similarly situated and who succeeded; and learn as much as possible about business ownership, networking, and marketing. I quickly learned the following ...