Val and I went to a dinner-talk recently. There was a charge to attend, but I didn’t mind paying- seeing as how we’d get dinner and -hopefully- some insight and inspiration from the presenter.
We only got dinner.
We ended up leaving early, and once we got down the elevator, through the lobby, and outside, we turned to each other and screamed.
Literally. We screamed.
Now, perhaps that sounds like an overreaction -and I’m the first to admit that I am prone to over-reacting- but I can’t help it. Bad presenting is like bad sex. If you’re bad at it, then for heaven’s sake, stop making others suffer and figure out how to do it better.
But good presenting is hard to do, you whine. It’s not fair to be so harsh, you whimper. Please. Just because I do this for a living doesn’t mean I don’t sympathize with how nerve-wracking public speaking is for most people. But if you’ve been given the immense privilege, yes, privilege, of the undivided attention of a group, you have a responsibility to get it right.
Here are three presentation tips to assist you in the future.
1) Know your audience. Don’t tell stories that don’t have anything to do with their lives. Know what matters to them. Know the culture. And by culture I don’t just mean how and where people were raised -although that can be important- I mean the behaviors and beliefs that are central to that particular audience. Is it a group of executives? Entrepreneurs? Salespeople? Culture matters. Know it before you get there.
2) Know yourself. Most presenters don’t have the first clue about how they appear to others, especially when on the spot. Know what your particular nervous tic is, what your preferred space-filler is (um, ok, etc.), how you gesture, etc. If you aren’t aware of what you’re doing wrong, then you’ll never be able to change it.
3) Know your stuff. It goes without saying that you should know your content before standing in front of a group, but in addition, if you don’t know how to gesture, use visuals, deal with objections, modulate your voice, or a host of other things good presenters know how to do, then get some training.
To have the undivided attention of anyone these days, much less a group of people, is rare. When you’re given the opportunity, take it seriously. Otherwise, I may fork myself in the eye-ball. Believe me, I’ve been tempted to do so in the past.