According to Nick Morgan a Forbes Contributor, “only about 10% of the population enjoys public speaking. This select group of people apparently experiences no fear and gets a huge buzz as a result of being in front of a large crowd. Another 10% of our population is mortified of public speaking. It’s usually the thought terrifies them, which causes them to avoid public speaking at all cost. This leaves 80% of the population that find themselves sort of “in the middle””. They may get butterflies and lose sleep the night before, but all in all they know they will get through it.
I used to be part of the 10% that were afraid of public speaking. I remember holding my index cards trembling and mumbling in front of my management class in college. What a horrible experience for my peers! I failed to prepare for my presentations and I paid the price by providing my audience with a horrible experience. After that, I began reading books and blogs, watching videos, and following well-known presenters in hopes of developing my presentation skills. During my research on dynamic presenters, I stumbled upon a performance that caught my attention.
The presenter topic of choice was how to become a dynamic presenter. He had excellent stage presence; his voice and his body moved as one. He carefully used different tones to connect with the audience emotionally. I was instantly mesmerized by the presenter’s ability to maintain the attention of the audience. As a result, I remembered the presenter said that he started writing for this presentation 3 months in advance. I skill that I still utilize to this day!
When I was in college, I realized that I truly enjoyed writing poetry. I used it as a way to reduce stress and escape everyday life. One day after class, I saw a poster for a Spoken Word contest with a grand prize of $100. I didn’t know what spoken word was at the time, so I rushed home to do some research. To provide a fundamental background of this form of art, Wikipedia describes it as: “…an oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of wordplay and intonation and voice inflection” (Wikipedia, 2016). In other words, it means taking poetry and performing it on stage. That night was the spoken word slam contest. Because I saw the flyer at the last minute, I didn’t have the time to practice. I learn best when I am thrown into the action and this was my chance to learn from experienced performers. I arrived at the venue early and practiced my poem about 10 times before I went on stage. The line up was good, but I realized that the poets seemed more nervous and less polished than I had expected, which calmed my nerves.
There was one performer left before I got on stage. His name was Ten thousand. His voice was powerful, his message was clear and concise, and his story was a roller coaster that consistently had me on the edge of my seat. I had never heard a performance so great. He controlled the audience and they rewarded him with a standing ovation. I had to follow that performance and my nerves came back stronger than ever.
It turned out that my performance was better that my class presentation. I felt like I had made great progress from taking what I learned from my research and practicing 10 times before getting in front of my audience. After the performance, I got a chance to speak to Ten thousand, when he shared with me that he practiced that piece for a year and performed it at multiple events. Needless to say, he dedicated many hours of preparation into that contest.
After participating in the spoken word event, I was eager to start preparing for my next presentation. From there on out, I began practicing and reviewing my material at least one month prior to a presentation. I also find it helpful to write my script before reciting my poetry or giving business presentations.
Spoken Word is presenting! If you have not watched a spoken word performance I implore you to. It has changed how I articulate my thoughts and present material. I have become a better speaker because of spoken word. Below are 4 explosive presentations tips that will elevate your game.
4 Explosive Presentations Tips
1. Know Your Audience: Your audience is the most important aspect of a presentation. Why? Have you ever attended a presentation where you almost fell asleep? Did you start checking your phone? They didn’t keep you engaged which resulted in you losing interest. Have you ever attended a meeting and realized the presenter wasn’t talking to you?
a. If you are the presenter, send an email to the organizer asking who the expected audience is.
2. Write an Outline: In my experience, sharing stories helps to keep the audience engaged. Everyone loves a well-spoken story! Tailor it to your audience because you are presenting for them, not yourself!
a. Once I learn my audience, I research the topic.
b. I try to find examples of the content I am presenting. It helps with the narration to develop my story.
c. I have a 20-minute writing/brainstorming session. I write for 2o minutes straight whatever comes to mind. They key is not to edit during this period.
3. Preparation: Practicing is key to performing well on game day
a. Practice early, often, and out loud
b. Practice in the setting you are presenting in. When it’s time for you to present it will feel comfortable.
4. Have a Consistent Pace and Tone: This is an area of growth for me. I get really excited to present and sometimes rush through the content. Unfortunately, that doesn’t give the audience time to digest and consume the message. Practice pacing; I bring a bottle of water with me and force myself to take a sip. It helps me slow down. I ask questions throughout as a way to slow my presentation down.
Are you preparing for a presentation for a promotion or an interview? Let Elevated Progression assist with creating your resume, cover letter, and/or LinkedIn profile. This will allow you to focus on your interview and we can handle the rest. Drop me a note below. How was your first time presenting? What are your habits to prepare for a presentation?
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