“The best idea, unless presented well, fails.”
What is the greatest fear in the world? Public speaking is considered to be the greatest fear in the world; more than death or disability. Why? Because when we are not able to present well in public, we feel humiliated and insulted in our own eyes. Our self-esteem goes down.
Most people agree that public speaking is an essential to leadership qualities. There is a big difference in public speaking and effective public speaking. Anyone can speak in public; but effective public speaking involves touching your audience intellectually and emotionally, resulting in a call to action.
Effective public speaking involves three things:
A presentation, in order to be effective, must have some style or flair. Flair is what gives character and flavor to the presentation; otherwise, it is bland and hence, ineffective. Style is what maintains the interest of the audience; and leaves a footprint on their minds.
Structure gives a flow to the entire presentation. Structure organizes the presentation; which makes it easy to follow and understand. Without structure, the presentation is a haphazard and confusing to the audience.
Substance means there must be depth in the presentation; and it should be factually correct. With substance, comes authenticity; and authenticity gives credibility. Lose and vague statements are not only confusing but also make the speaker lose respect.
Successful presentations are no accidents; they are consciously made with proper preparation. Practice, practice, practice. A good presenter keeps the following important points in mind:
There are six major factors to consider:
Have a Strong Opening
The first 30 seconds are crucial to any presentation. Good speakers capture their audience’s attention in the first 30 seconds. If the speaker hasn’t grabbed the attention of their audience in the first 30 seconds; they’ve probably lost it.
Have you noticed, most of the times in an auditorium, the seats start getting filled up at the back near the exit? Why? The person is sitting there saying to himself, “Let me listen to this guy for a short while. If he makes sense, I’ll continue; if not, I’ll get out without disturbing anyone.”Listeners tend to remember the openers. Setting the stage is essential before diving into the nuts and bolts of the presentation. The audience must feel a need, a want to listen. They need a strong reason, an answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?” Make them inquisitive, curious before kicking off.
Avoid Information Overload
With an adequate amount of detail comes depth; but with an excess comes confusion, if not boredom. Good speakers literally coach their audience by addressing the problems and providing solutions. They simply filter out, delete the irrelevant.
The golden rule followed by all great speakers is the Rule of Three. They make three points and give proof along with it. Why? Because as soon as the speaker makes a point, the audience mentally says, “Prove it.” Thus, making a point is never enough. A point shall always be accompanied with something – fact, logic, substance.
But, why three? What is the Magic of Three? Anything less than three is too less; anything more than three is too much. The reason “three” sticks is, because it’s an odd number. Somehow, odd numbers stick much greater than even numbers. Simply because three, somehow, just registers.
You must have heard people talk about “Tall, Dark and Handsome”, “Good, the Bad, the Ugly”,
“For the People, by the People, and of the People”, and so on. It sticks.
If, in case, you want to exceed three; make it five, not four; seven, not six. Why? Because odd numbers stick way better. My recommendation would be to stay with the Rule of Three and avoid an overload of information.
Don’t Inject a New Point while Closing
If you are on a test and two minutes are left before you’ve to submit, and you start answering a subjective question of about ten marks; would you be able to answer it properly? The answer is no.Likewise, at the close of a presentation, you don’t have enough time to substantiate your point; hence, you could leave your audience confused, and your point incomplete.
Have a Strong Closing – Close with a Call to Action
Having a strong closing is as important as having a strong opening. Why? Because openers and closers leave impressions. People remember impressions; and the contents are lost. Good speakers understand that successful, impactful presentations ought to end with a call to action. If a person can’t bring action out of his audience; then they aren’t a public speaker, but just a loudspeaker.
Don’t Keep the QnA’s at the End
A great presentation can be ruined by a weak close. Staying in control of the presentation is what needs to be mastered.
The only issue with keeping QnA’s at the end is; if for some reason it falls down the cliff, then the audience walks away with a sour taste in their mouth. Learning how to handle difficult questions and difficult people is a pre-requisite for having a healthy QnA session.
A WOW Factor is a Must
There has to be something in the presentation that makes the audience go, “WOW!”
What brings the WOW factor? There are two things that bring a WOW factor:
The audience should walk away by saying, “If I had not been here tonight, I would have missed out on something valuable.
I have a value addition in my life. I am walking away richer.”
The audience should say, “From this point onwards, this is what I will do in my life.” Always leave the audience with one or two actionable ideas – things they can implement in life.
“How you say is way more important than what you say.
Even more important is what it makes them feel;
because that is what will be remembered.”
The author is a a well-known speaker, author, educator, and business consultant.