You’ve created your speech. You’ve practiced, practiced and practiced. You know your speech backwards and upside down – not necessarily word for word, but all the information and all the key points you need to make. You have done your homework to foolproof your presentation.
The Day of your Presentation
And it’s finally here – the day of your presentation.
You’re nervous, but you tell yourself it’s excitement. You focus on how you’re going to help your audience with that speech. You use your positive affirmations, bolstered by the practice sessions you’ve had, as well as those storytelling lessons or Toastmaster’s meetings.
How else can you help yourself feel like a winner – and feel confident enough to go out there and actually enjoy giving your presentation?
5 Things to Remember
Here are a few proven ideas…
1. Dress for success
That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a formal three-piece business suit or dressing like a fashion model.
It means dressing in a way that:
- Makes you feel comfortable
- Looks professional and well-coordinated
- Makes your audience view you as both successful and “just like” them
Dressing up means you respect your audience – and yourself.
2. Use a checklist.
Don’t just dash off, the morning of your speech. Make a checklist the night before – and make sure you have everything you need.
This could include things like:
- Your cue cards
- Throat lozenges
- Cords and cables for your hardware
- A bottle of water
- Meds or inhalers if needed
- Your iphone
- Spare batteries
- Props you want to use
3. Practice – and test – your technology
Make sure you have practiced at home with any hardware or technology you plan to include or use in your speech.
If the venue is supplying all hardware and technology, arrive as early as possible and make sure these items are (a) properly connected (b) well-tested and set up, ready to go.
If there are links in your presentation that go outside the program, click them and test.
4. Gather your audience.
Great storytellers know they don’t have to resort to funny voices, puppets, loud voices or any other gimmicks to capture an audience’s attention.
A good story should virtually tell itself – the storyteller is simply along for the ride.
Legendary Irish storyteller, Alice Kane, used a technique she called “gathering the audience”. She would stand there, an elderly lady in a demure dress and sensible shoes, with her hand folded together, letting her gaze wander over the audience, taking them into her consciousness, one by one.
A magical thing would happen while she did this: Her audience would – one by one – fall quiet and stare back expectantly, waiting to see what she was going to do next.
When the hall had fallen silent – and this never took long – Kane would begin her story, speaking in a soft, Irish lilt. And within a sentence or two, people of all ages and all walks of life would be transported, gripped by a story stronger than all the Hollywood special effects in the world.
When she finished speaking, and you had to come back to “reality”, there was always a sense of disappointment and loss. You wanted the story to go on and on.
And that brings us to our last point…
5. Always leave them wanting more.
Give the audience the complete package – everything you promised. Just make sure they are eager to follow through and sign up for your website or buy your product – just so they can interact more with you.
A great way to bond with your audience so that this happens is to be interactive. After your speech, ask your audience questions about themselves. Offer a Question and Answer period. (Seed it with a couple of questioners you’ve planted there yourself, just to get the ball rolling and break the ice.)
If you’re about to hook your audience with an anecdote on a particular topic, ask a relevant question first to draw them in and set them up. (And make sure you really listen to – and acknowledge – their answers.)
For example, say you are going to talk about organization, start off with a question about missing objects. (“Who here has found, time and time again, that when you put two matching socks into the dryer, only one comes back out?”)
Bonding with your audience is a vital strategy for ensuring they’ll naturally “want more”.
Oh. And there’s one more important step to take… We will talk about it in our next post!