I had an interesting conversation with a client yesterday. She asked, can anyone present. Well yes, I believe everyone can present, however we have different styles of presenting.
This is a very interesting topic to discuss: there are a number of styles of presenting, and personalities that find it more challenging to engage with others when they are addressing them. Also, people’s perception of presenting varies. The client was referring to more introverted personalities – of which there are many in her organisation. She said “It’s not like you; you’re used to performing”. Whilst I’m delighted she recognised my performance skill set, she didn’t realise I had to work very hard to go from a very quiet school girl to a performer and therefore the knowledge and experience I acquired on the way. Here I summarise what I believe makes a good presenter whatever your personality is.
Knowing your audience: This might appear obvious, but unless you know the expectations of your audience; what they are interested in; their skill set; age; gender etc. you will struggle to engage your audience – unless you are a very charismatic, gifted speaker.
Know your subject: being an expert and knowing your subject matter will not only make you feel more confident about the content of your presentation, it will make you AND the audience feel more confident!
Knowing what behaviour is appropriate: showboating as you come on to do a presentation pitch to a professional organisation, as if you are in the final of the X Factor is going to go down as well as someone shuffling into the room, avoiding eye contact with anyone. If in doubt, adopt a friendly, open manner.
Know when to stop talking: I attended an excruciating workshop, which turned out to be a ‘sales fest’ of speakers selling from the stage. The self proclaimed ‘Best Public Speaker in the World’ would say something profound and immediately say “Get it?”. Not only was it exhausting to listen to, the brain was unable to process the information as he wasn’t pausing. Having a silent moment isn’t only a joy to the audience, it enables them to take in specific information. It takes courage but a good trainer will develop these skills to ensure you engage with your audience in a positive way.
Know basic presenting skills: although we all have different personalities and characteristics, there are some fundamental presenting skills every presenter needs to know. A good trainer or presentation course will combine these skills with finding your own unique style.
Know when to listen: during a presentation, a member of the audience might wish to ask something. Of course it is always good to set the ground rules early; so if you are uncomfortable about answering questions during your presentation, say so at the beginning. But it is easy to panic when people are asking questions, rather than LISTENING to the question. This is an art, and a great skill to have.
Knowing how to prepare: I always remember being accused of ‘Winging it’ by someone who has recently set herself up as a Public Speaking coach. What she didn’t recognise was that I rehearse, practice, rehearse, mentally and physically prepare before any presentation, because it is a performance. And it is that work that makes my presentations look more natural. Believe me, I get as nervous as anyone else! But I know what I need to do before any presentation, public speaking engagement, webinar, podcast, media appearance etc, in order to do the very best I can.
If you would like more details of our individual and workshop presentation courses contact us. We’d love to work with you and help you discover that everyone can present.