"College is not the thirteenth grade."
How many of you can remember hearing something to that effect being announced at freshman orientation when you were a student, starting out on your college journey? You may have facetiously gasped in surprise. You may have rolled your eyes at the absurdity of the statement. (You were seventeen- or eighteen-years-old at the time, so that would have been totally normal, right?) You may have laughed it off.
Or you may have had a moment of clarity and a lightbulb popped on.
Think back to the last time you had a really good conversation. What did the other person do that made the engagement such a good experience? Did he have good (or even juicy!) information? Did she answer a big question you had? Did it feel like your listener enjoyed being there and was both physically and mentally present in the moment?
You grab and maintain audience attention - in-person and online - by immediately solving a mystery and giving the audience what it needs, by providing the audience something useful. The truth is you want to be able to hear a pin drop. Because you’ve researched and you know what the audience wants, you have people listening closely and ready to chime in as opposed to bored and waiting for the session to end. And it all starts with a shift in attitude.
If you are ready for a strategy that moves audience members from passive and disinterested to active, hot, and ready to do business in every single presentation, then you are in the right place and engaging with the right professional speaker and presentation skills coach who is going to keep it real and be totally honest with you.
Now believe me … there was some time involved with creating the full strategy … the strategy that has my clients getting in front of any audience with much confidence and much swagger and MASTERING their messages. It did not happen overnight, and it did not come in a dream.
Much of it came from ...
There is so much you want to cover and only so much time to do it. Subconsciously, you want your audience to fall as deeply in love with your topic as you are already in love with it. This tends to cause a problem.
But just a second … this is not to suggest there is something wrong with wanting your audience to find the same value in your content as you find in it. The challenge lies in this desire propelling you to share and share and share to the point you end up rambling, rambling, and rambling. By going off on tangents or losing your train of thought, you also lose your effectiveness and diminish your power with all of the spins and twirls and ups and downs and twists and turns you put in your message.
It's the line you dread hearing ... especially if you are just starting out in your industry or if you are new to entrepreneurship ...
"So ... tell me what it is you do!"
It's not that you do not love what you do or that you do not want to share your professional passion. The challenge is you have not narrowed down exactly how to make this critical 30-second presentation in a succinct fashion so it doesn't put your listener to sleep or doesn't have you rambling.
You must clarify what you do that helps your listener be better at what he/she does. Use this 4-part approach every time you pitch yourself or your business, and you make it very clear to your listener what you do, the results you bring your clients, how you're different from your competitors, and how you're on your way (or already there!) to the top floor!
You have prepared for what you believe is a killer presentation. You have your technology ready. You have picked the perfect setting. You are ready to make this live remote presentation one for the history books.
Okay. Perhaps that's a bit melodramatic; however, you get my point. You have invested time, energy, and research in designing a meaningful session to deliver to an audience of listeners who are located all over the country -- possibly around the globe. However, full calendars and busy lives can preclude your target audience from attending the session live, and you have more who opt to catch the recording at a later date that's more convenient for them.
While you can understand and respect those realities, it does nothing to make you feel better about preparing to present a live web-based presentation or a synchronous class session, right?
A friend and colleague once shared with me people make time for what's important to them. End of story. So with that, let's identify three ways you can make your session important to your prospective audience, so everyone's not putting it off until a later date but is showing up live and ready.
Um. So I am going to like tell you a little about a challenge in speaking that is sorta like a big issue. But like most people are like super annoyed by it. And ... um ... well ... I can understand why because it's sorta like a problem when it comes to - you know - sounding well like credible.
Now that I've sufficiently tortured you, let's cut to the chase.
Filler words, also called verbal segregates, are a part of everyday speech. We hear professionals use them ... even anchors and reporters use them. We use them all the time, and it's not that the mere use of them is a bad thing; it's problematic when you use them too often, which can weaken your message and, as a result, incredibly diminish your credibility. A repeated use of them makes you sound unsure and makes you look less confident.
It is not recommended that you completely eliminate all filler words from your vocabulary as you will learn in the first suggestion below. In all honesty, (and yes, that phrase is one of my fillers!), the use of filler words makes you sound human! Therefore, you have to decide how many of them is too many to have and use, which ones you want to eliminate, then how to go about doing just that. And this post has you covered on all fronts so your credibility is no longer getting crushed but is instead rock solid. Let's do this!
Everyone, I want you to look at a presentation this way: even if you know only 10% of what there is to know about a topic on which you are presenting, for the most part, that is inextricably more than what your audience knows about the topic. That right there should make your chest stick out at least an inch!
View yourself as the expert, and think that way before and throughout your presentation. It will build you up, and it helps reduce anxiety and lessen your worries about judgment. And another attitude to consider when working to get rid of your nerves and to boost your confidence is if people want to be so judgmental, then they should get up in the front of the room and try to do what you are doing. (Yes. There was some attitude there, but ... well ... that's simply my view on the matter.)
Do you recall that time you were totally psyched and jazzed about a presentation after you read the title and description of the presentation, both of which sounded down-right delicious?
You were ready.
Could not wait!
You thought, "This is going to be a winner! For sure!"
And then ...
The presentation starts, and you feel let-down. It's like cutting into that amazing piece of fruit you scored at the local market only to take a bite that tastes ... well ... you know ... not so great.
You cannot put your finger on why the presentation is seemingly lackluster and why you have lost your motivation to listen. But what you do know is the impact of the presentation has been lessened, and it happened within the first few minutes. It made you think, "Whatever that was, if I ever present, I want to make sure I never do it!"
I will tell you exactly what happened and, most importantly, four steps to ensure you avoid it.
Oftentimes, we may think the bigger the opportunity, the greater possibility for mistakes to happen. Speaking in front of a group of 20 or even 200 can feel comfortable and completely natural, but what do you do when that audience increases 10-, 20-, or 50-fold? Do your nerves reciprocate? Are the challenges now insurmountable? Not so.
Granted, a different approach is necessary for larger audiences for your message to effectively reach everyone; however, with these four considerations, you will be able to master your message and deliver it with distinction regardless of the multitude of listeners before you.