Guest post by Alexia Vernon
I spent the first decade of my career enmeshed in internal workplace learning and development. While as a public speaking and leadership consultant I still train a lot of emerging through senior leaders, my passion has become ensuring that all people, regardless of industry or sector, possess the tools to speak with confidence and competence in their interpersonal communication, negotiation, facilitation, and public speaking.
While there is little more painful than seeing and hearing a speaker deliver inaccurate, incomplete, or unhelpful content, one thing that is at least equally painful is when someone has so much expertise she or he doesn't know how to make it meaningful for an audience. Here are my top 3 ways to ensure that your next presentation, whether it’s just at a departmental meeting or in front of a large group of employees, is memorable AND translates into the action you want to see from your people.
Tip #1: Ditch the slide deck
Or at the very least, minimize the number of slides you are using. No matter how sobering or helpful a statistic or how helpful you think it is to have everything you plan to say bullet-pointed on a screen, you want your audience looking at you. You want them seeing you, and you want to be looking directly at them. When you create an environment where you and your audience can really see each other, you enhance the speaking experience for both of you.
Tip #2: Incorporate the right stories
As leaders and managers, most of us understand that the best way to move people to action is to show rather than to tell. Unfortunately, we often tell stories to get a laugh or because we heard someone else tell them. In order to use stories effectively, we must begin by understanding how a story connects to the message we want to impart. This helps us identify which details to include, how much framing a story needs, and most importantly, how to transition out of a story to ensure that our audience is taking away what’s relevant. Often the most important part of a story is the question we ask at the end of it in order for our audience to relate it to themselves and their circumstances.
Tip #3: Shift from being an expert to being human
This can feel incredibly scary. We are the go-to person for our people, therefore when we speak we believe we should be delivering our perceived expertise. Have all of the answers. Yes and no. Of course we don’t want to waste the gift of face time in front of an audience, whether it’s an audience of 1 or 100. But it’s important to remember that often what is holding people back from transferring what they've learned into action isn't a lack of information. It is a lack of belief in themselves; it’s believing that information will work for others and not for them. The most effective speakers share both their struggles and how they have surmounted them in order for an audience to see what’s possible with the right integration of faith and elbow grease.
Alexia has developed a first-of-its-kind public speaking training program that takes thought leaders through creating, booking, and performing a TED-worthy talk. Chock full of tips for better storytelling, finding your “idea worth spreading”, and high impact delivery, this is the perfect program if you want to get speaking at professional associations or conferences – or if you’ve always dreamed of applying to speak on a TED or TEDx stage. You can learn more here.
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