One of the key success factors in delivering presentations that get results is your stage presence. A lack of stage presence almost always results in lack of interest on the part of the participants, so when results are what count, stage presence cannot be ignored.
One of the key points I offer in my communication skills training is that your voice is your best tool when delivering a presentation. When you stand up in front of an audience – no matter how many – and speak in a monotone voice, you are very likely to “lose” your audience after the first two minutes. And in truth, you may lose them after 60 seconds!
This is because we, as audience members, have all developed a “dull-o-meter”. It’s built into our brains from having to sit through presentation after presentation. And if you are like me, your dull-o-meter is pretty accurate! But don’t just take my word for it. Consider Thomas, who contacted me this summer for presentations coaching.
Thomas found himself in a difficult position at the beginning of August. His boss had taken ill suddenly while on vacation and would not be returning to the office for several weeks or even longer. And so Thomas was tasked to step in and speak at an external conference the first week of September, in place of his boss. Thomas would be speaking as the company expert in front of 200 industry experts and media. All of a sudden, Thomas, his expertise, his communication skills, and by extension his company, would be under extreme scrutiny.
When Thomas called me for help, we met and immediately made a plan to ensure that his presentation was successful, and that the results would support not just Thomas and his company, but add value to the 200 or so experts in the audience as well.
Thomas had a great base to begin from because he was accepted as an expert in his field, and he was comfortable speaking in front of groups, even though his presentations experience so far had been speaking to internal groups.
After an initial assessment of his presentation skills, Thomas realized he needed to develop his stage presence in a big way. And the right place to start was with a tool he already had: his voice.
During our coaching, Thomas learned to use the four key voice techniques:
Without intonation, the audience has to interpret for themselves which words and ideas are important. And they may not interpret the way you want them to, which can be risky. Intonation gives meaning to your messages: This is the basis for an effective use of your voice in a presentation.
Volume is all about power. How loud do you need to speak so that everyone in the audience can hear you? How loud should you speak? Because speaking softly or loudly can add emphasis to your words.
How fast you speak can add emphasis or excitement, either speeding up or slowing down. Remember to speak at a slow enough speed so that your audience can capture your messages.
Create a moment of silence by taking a short pause, usually by taking an extra breath before you continue. It can create drama and add emphasis, and it gives the audience time to process the information you have just shared.
I was honoured to be invited to watch Thomas give his presentation last week. Thomas was dynamic, interesting, and dare I say it, captivating. His messages were well received and the applause at the end of his presentation was REAL.
Thomas stepped up by making the decision to increase his communication skills competence to ensure a successful presentation. And by focusing on his voice as a tool to deliver his messages, he was able to get the results he wanted, for himself, his company, AND his audience. Congratulations, Thomas!
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