“The only reason to give a speech is to change the world” -John F. Kennedy
I’m a guest lecturer at a career class on Tuesday. I’ve been asked to speak about presentation skills. So, I’m giving a presentation about how to give presentations.
I’m particularly passionate about presentations. (And alliteration, apparently.) How many presentations have you sat through, including classes, that truly had an impact on you…that changed your life in some way? I can’t think of many myself. Most presenters approach a speaking opportunity with trepidation or resigned to being “just okay.” When you get a chance to make a presentation (and the campus tour is definitely a presentation) DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE INTERESTING! Why not challenge an audience and expect some action or some change in thinking as the result of your presentation?
My favorite presentation guru is a guy named Garr Reynolds. He used to work for Apple computer. He lives in Japan now where he’s an instructor and expert in “presentation design.” Check out his presentation tips and bookmark or subscribe to his blog. He is particularly insightful about the use and misuse of Powerpoint.
Passion, enthusiasm, heart, soul…
Regardless of techniques and tools, the key component of any presentation is passion or enthusiasm or heart or soul or whatever you want to call that hard-to-define feeling of genuinely caring about something. I would rather sit in an accounting class where the teacher is fired up about the material than listen to an expert on sex who is dull and uninterested and uninteresting. If you’re giving a presentation, focus on the aspects of your subject that are the most interesting and exciting to you. Ask yourself, “WWKD?” (What Would Knowshon Do?), and put your whole heart into it.
Fear? Death and spiders are way scarier than giving a speech! The audience is actually on your side. If you approach a speech assuming the audience is hoping you screw up, yes, you’re going to be pretty uptight. But imagine yourself in an audience listening to a speaker who is struggling. Don’t you hate that feeling, and aren’t you actually hoping the speaker pulls it together and does a great job, just so you can relax and enjoy it? Audiences are on your side. They’re rooting for you to be great.
And don’t apologize for your speech. So many speakers act like their speech is such an inconvenience for the audience.
“I’m sorry to take your time, but…”
“I know you’re eager to leave, but…”
Seth Godin recently noted that it’s called giving a speech, so treat your presentation as though it’s a gift to the audience. If you have to apologize for speaking, then why are you even there?
I could go on, but I’ll save more for future posts on this topic.