Top Tips For Delivering Authentic Presentations
The most positive, memorable presentations are the ones that are authentic. When we deliver an authentic presentation, who we are shines through. We connect with our audience. We inspire and engage… and we make a difference. These are powerful tools in any leaders toolbox.
You’ve probably received advice at some point about modifying pitch, volume and gestures when presenting. Perhaps you were told that you spoke too fast, that you needed to speak louder, or that you were fidgeting and speaking concurrently.
But simply changing your pitch, volume or gestures is like putting new tyres or a rear spoiler on an old car and expecting it to run in the Grand Prix. These alterations will never make a big impact on the whole car and what’s more, they look out of place.
Similarly, when you focus on the ‘externalities’ of your presentations and try to slow down your speech, modulate your pitch or stop doing what you were doing with your hands, you feel awkward and your presentation isn’t significantly improved. In fact, the more you try to change these things, the less authentic and more uncomfortable you become.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to presentations. There is no perfect speed, pitch, or combination of gestures. Our presentations are as unique as we are. Hence why we need to look beyond traditional fixes.
Top tips for delivering authentic presentations
Don’t try to relax
So many people think they should relax when giving a presentation. As a result they try to relax… and then they ‘try’ harder. ‘Trying’ turns into ‘stressing’, and into techniques like taking a deep breath. Wrong!
Imagine that you have to walk on to a platform to deliver a speech, and then take a deep breath to relax… if you’re like 99.99999% of people, the breath you took with that picture in your mind, was a high, tight breath in your chest that did absolutely NOTHING to relax you, and only puffed out your chest making you look more uncomfortable and feel more tight.
Accept that presenting is not about relaxing and harness that nervous energy into an enlivened presentation.
Take the nervous energy you may feel before presenting and use it to blow a big breath out and shake out the nervous tension in your arms and upper body.
Incorporate purposeful movement into your presentations
Purposeful movement is a key component
of authentic presentations. Movement is important in facilitating the breath which keeps your voice strong. When you freeze up, usually out of nerves, the flow of your breath gets blocked, and you lose significant power in your voice.
The trick to getting around this is to MOVE. Lift your arms off your body. Use gestures. Move to different parts of your presentation area. Smile. Movement will keep the air flowing, prevent your body from jamming up, and will have the increased benefit of keeping your thoughts fluid as well.
Create places in your presentation area that become anchors for different parts of your presentation. For example: past, present, future, or concept 1, 2 and 3. Physically go to and / or gesture to those places when referring to those parts of your presentation.
Get your rest position right
When you are under stress, your body tends to move into a ‘default’ stress position. This can be head cocked up, neck jammed back, shoulders stooped, knee lifted and standing on one foot… all of these default positions give off a message or impression about you, and they are generally not positive.
A cocked head conveys aggression or a know-it-all attitude. Stooped shoulders conveys lack of confidence. Neck jammed back says ‘defensive’. The point here, is that these are default positions that we fall into, and not ones that we actively choose. Who would choose to look defensive?
Discovering your personal stress position can be a true eye-opener about your subtle reaction to handling stress and where you may be vulnerable.
Create a neutral rest position that you can purposefully move into during question time, moments of pausing or times when you need to gather your thoughts.
We fall into classic traps in presentations where we think it’s about us, our confidence and what we’re ‘telling’. When we approach a presentation with this attitude, we put ourselves on the back foot when it comes to connecting with and inspiring our audience.
Stop telling! When you ‘tell’ people what you are going to ‘tell’ them, it’s an immediate mental turn off. Shift your focus and your language from what you are going to ‘tell’ your audience, to what they are going to learn, do or buy.
A second benefit to the ‘stop telling’ model, is that it shifts focus and pressure off you and your prowess as a speaker. When you put the focus on your audience’s needs and desires, you can free yourself up to meet them in the most engaging and connected way possible.
Shift your focus and your language from what you are going to ‘tell’ your audience, to what they are going to learn, do or buy.
Authentic presentation is about connecting with and engaging your audience, being open, and sharing your knowledge, thoughts and ideas. While you may approach your presentations in this way, your old gestures and habits may sabotage your true intentions. Your voice can say, ‘lacking confidence’, your body language can say ‘defensive’, your gestures can say ‘aggression’, and your words can say, ‘it’s about me, not you’.
By applying these tips to delivering authentic presentations, you can overcome your habitual patterns and reflect the intention and meaning you want to convey in your presentations, and, as a result, become more authentically yourself in front of others.
Republished from the International Institute of Directors and Managers (IIDM) – www.iidmglobal.com
Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.
“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”