How to Give a STANDOUT Presentation
by Motivational Speaker Connie Podesta
Believe it or not, after more than 30 years in this business, speaking to more than 60,000 people a year, I still get nervous. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. (How many of you feel the same?) I always want to have that little fear-factor edge that keeps me on my toes and never lets me take my job or my audiences for granted. But, I have learned to conquer the major fears and keep cool, calm and collected. Stage fright is just part of it though – right? You may be worried about your message. Will it hit home? Will they like it? Will they see you as a credible expert from whom they would like to learn? Today’s successful speaker needs both substance and style to make an audience sit up and take notice – and want you back again.
The reality is: most people today are being required more and more to give presentations – and for many of you, your job and income depend on it. I’m asked all the time by audience members and clients, “Connie, how can I be a better speaker?” Well, I can definitely help you accomplish that by sharing a few of my secrets to success. Ready? First …
EMBRACE YOUR NERVOUSNESS. Stop being so hard on yourself for feeling on edge. Realize that everyone in the audience admires you for just being up in front. Public speaking is people’s number-one fear. They are pulling for you. And they are very glad it’s you and not them who has to give the presentation. Take a deep breath and stop all the negative self-talk. I promise if you integrate the following tips, your nerves will calm and your brain will take over and give you the power to present like a pro.
Here are my top six tips for giving a powerful presentation…
- GIVE THEM WHAT THEY NEED AND WANT: Here’s the deal. Today’s audiences? Need way more than RAH-RAH. Way more than pleasant platitudes. While there’s merit to words of affirmation and helping people make a shift in attitude – too often keynotes can come off way more fluff than foundation. These are real people facing real problems that need real solutions – if you can focus on giving them strategies and tools that they can implement immediately – they will love you. If your message moves people to take ACTION which leads to increased RESULTS – they’ll hire you back again and again. Inspiration is great, but content that drives commitment, change and momentum? That’s where you’ll start to stand out. Consider that every member of that audience comes in thinking, “What’s in it for me?” “How can you help me achieve more, get more, have more?” Deliver that and you’ll have them eating out of your hands.
- MAKE IT ABOUT THEM, NOT YOU. I hear so many speakers who thought, hey – I have a great story – that’s enough to move an audience. Nope. Not even close. Kudos to everyone who’s climbed a mountain, won a medal, faced down a bear or overcome terrifying odds. Those are all cool accomplishments, don’t get me wrong. But keep it in perspective. YOUR story alone is not enough to help your audiences succeed. It should not be about encouraging them to live up to YOUR story – it should be about helping them create their OWN amazing story based on the techniques you teach that can help them reach their goals. Make sure you’ve got some substance in your speech. Do you have take-aways that people can implement right away? Are you offering a fresh perspective/idea/innovation that can change their life for the better?
- IT’S ALL IN THE DELIVERY.Slideshows? Consider scaling back or ditching them altogether. Audiences today need your undivided attention and you need theirs. Simple as that. Ever watch speakers who are truly addicted to PowerPoint? Understand that slides get in the way of the personal connection with the audience that’s just waiting to be had. Understand how much more powerful and effective you can be when you realize that as the speaker – you ARE the visual. Instead of reading a screen, connect with the people in front of you. Ask questions, interact, participate and invite them to join in for the full experience. People will appreciate your candor, your openness and you making their presentation about THEM instead of a canned speech.
- THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX, AROUND THE BOX AND OVER THE BOX!Or heck – throw out the box! Great speakers have amazingly fresh, unique and creative ideas. They take sometimes incredibly simple ideas or concepts and figure out how to deliver them in the most unusual of ways. They NEVER fall back on outdated information, old stories, or information that has been heard over and over. Instead they draw from current experiences and challenge their audiences to be innovative, ditch status quo, and embrace change. They are also very flexible when it comes to adding data, analogies, current events and examples, even at the last minute, so they can give their audience the most up-to-the-moment information possible. Another reason why slides get in your way—you are stuck with the presentation as is and cannot easily change, adapt or add new information if the situation calls for it.
- DO YOUR HOMEWORK.Oh boy … here’s to the differentiator! Great presenters know their topic, their product and their audience like the back of their hand because they’ve taken the time to do the research. Even the best theories in the world need to fit the audience. Find out everything you can about the company, audience and culture of the people for whom you are creating your message. Then weave all of the above into a message where they will say to themselves, “That speaker understands exactly how I feel and think.” That way you’ll deliver an experience that is fresh for your group, vital to your success, timely for your market and customized for the organization. “But Connie – that’s a lot of work!” It sure is, but that’s what you’re charging for right? Not just your name, your face, your funny delivery style. You’re paid to deliver an experience that can create change, makes people raise their hands and say, “I’m in.” Or, “That’s me!” Your job is to shine a spotlight on what is holding people back – then direct them to the solutions that will propel them forward.
- YOU MUST ENTERTAIN THEM. Before you freak out, this doesn’t mean you have to be a standup comic. Although a great sense of humor goes an awfully long way to pleasing even the most difficult of audiences. I mean you must be full of life, energy and passion for your subject and your audience. There is absolutely nothing worse than a boring speaker. Avoid using a podium if humanly possible. Or keep notes on it and walk away whenever possible. Be excited – or act excited even if you are scared to death. Your passion, or lack of it, will determine the energy of the audience. They rely on you to set the tone. My research shows that without a doubt, if you want people to learn more, lighten up enough to open their minds and let go enough to adapt new ideas – you’ve got to let your energy shine through from the moment you take the stage. If you can deliver that – you’re on the right track.
I am passionate about helping people create more success and more opportunities for success in their lives and careers. If you’re about to take the stage or podium or just the front of the room – take these six tips with you. You’re going to do great – I know it!
And to all my meeting planner friends – thank you for always reaching for more for your audiences. Choosing speakers who deliver at their highest level so that you can ensure that every audience member has a shot at the elevated experience they deserve! If there is anything I can do to help you this year… give me a shout! That’s what I do!