First impressions "How should i open my presentation?" is a question we get asked often.…
Daniel asked me ‘what should I talk about?’ Daniel (not his real name) is working in marketing in an international business and I’m giving him some coaching in presentation skills. He wants to feel more comfortable giving presentations.
I ask him to show me how he would normally deliver a business presentation. As he speaks I realise he’s just saying the words he’s written, they don’t seem to mean anything, there’s no energy in them; they’re just words. No wonder he doesn’t feel comfortable, there’s nothing of him in there, and there’s no connection to me, his audience.
So I ask him to talk about an incident from his past. I give him an example from my own work history when I was a 13-year old paper-boy. He gets the point and talks briefly about his own first job, as a 16 year-old selling ice cream in a Berlin ice cream parlour. Suddenly he comes alive. His talk is full of detail and interesting. He’s surprised how good he sounds and how easy that was to achieve.
We then move onto his business presentation and we discuss how he could bring that alive. Realising that he can be an interesting speaker he starts to have the freedom to explore how he could say it differently, bringing more detail into his talk, making it come alive, full of energy and interest. And making a different connection to his audience with both his energy and his words.
As I later reflect on this, I realise that when we watch a TED talk we’re likely to be fascinated by the topic and by the way the speaker, whether it’s Daniel Pink, Ken Robinson or Brene Brown, uses real-life examples to make their point. But when we give a business presentation it’s easy to revert to the usual ‘business’ talk; we don’t include the stories and examples that would bring it alive for our audience.
And, by the way, we don’t need to speak about our early work, unless it’s relevant to our point; that’s just to get us started. But let’s talk in a way that the audience can relate to; let’s use examples and stories that make our point. Introducing more of these simple elements makes it easier for us to be more confident, energised and effective. I know it can transform our speaking.
If you’d like some ideas about bringing your business presentations alive, or, have a colleague who could do with some encouragement, let’s have a conversation. Give me a call or drop me an email. And one other possibility is to explore our public presentation courses.