Whew! You’ve just finished giving a business proposal or a company presentation. You feel more relaxed and are glad it’s over. Everyone in the auditorium claps. One problem: your audience was completely disengaged. They are looking to quickly move on to the next topic or head towards the nearest exit.
This happened to me last year when I gave a short training session. I spoke for an hour, and my point was lost on most of the audience. They were most likely clapping not because they learned something, but because I had finished speaking! Yikes!
Since then, I have learned a number of tidbits that have helped build my confidence and allow my message to shine:
#1 Who you lookin’ at?
Well, you should be looking at your audience! Lock eyes for a few seconds with different individuals in the room. Make that connection. Your eyes should not rest on one side of the room or even over the tops of people’s heads. Look at people on the right, left, front, and back of the room.
#2 Do you sound like the dorky professor?
You know the one I’m talking about — the monotone professor who stood in one place and droned on and on. Don’t be that way. Vary the tone and pitch of your voice. Use the power of the PAUSE! Use excitement to make points. Whisper on quieter points. Just don’t sound the same throughout the presentation.
#3 Caught You Red-Handed!
When talking, where do you usually place your hands? Are you fumbling with a pen? Do you have a death grip on the lectern? Or, do you look like an orchestra conductor? Are your arms crossing your body? Be mindful of your hands. Be mindful of their location. Make sure your hands add to your presentation, not detract from it.
#4 I am um here to um talk about um the proposal.
See a theme here? Ums and Ahs. I’ve heard speakers who use ums and ahs so much that I concentrate more on those ‘filler’ words than I do on what they are saying. Don’t let your speech get clogged with detracting words. Slow down. Think about what you’re saying and refrain from the ums.
What are some quirky things that you do when speaking? And, how have you overcome them?