“Anyone… can read a list of features or give a stream of facts to an audience. That’s now what we need or want. What we yearn for is to listen to an intelligent human being who teaches, inspires, or stimulates us…in a way that is meaningful. And this is where the story comes in…” -Garr Reynolds Presentation Zen
Today, people can get the information they want about anything instantly. So, PR newbie, why should anyone listen to your speech, pitch, or spiel about anything? Speechwriting and presenting has become an increasingly significant aspect of the communications world. But is a great speaker born or made? I believe it takes both to make a great presenter. Most people strongly dislike getting up in front of people they don’t know, talking about a subject that they don’t know if people will be interested in, and attempting to look good doing it. However, you can be the most charismatic and confident person in the world, or not, but speech giving is a craft that can be learned and mastered. How to structure your presentation and hone in on great presentation qualities can be taught to anyone, and I’m here to give you a few pointers in the right direction.
- Act like a guide:
- From the opening line to the ending destination, it is your job to pick up your entire audience at the same time and invite them to join you on a journey. Great presenters don’t just throw information at their audience. You will know you are successful as a speaker if at the end of your presentation, even if everyone doesn’t agree in what you have said, you have all still arrived at the same destination with knowledge of what you, as the presenter, believe in. Humor me with this Wizard of Oz analogy: It is like you are Dorothy and it is your job to take characters from all walks of life with you down the yellow brick road of your speech.
- Keep things simple:
- Some people try to overcompensate for knowing more than they need to know about the subject because of fear of sounding like they don’t know what they are talking about. Don’t be that person. Have one main idea. Any complex idea can be communicated in a simple way to the general public and in a way that makes people feel like it matters. The Gettysburg Address was less than 4 minutes long, but everyone knows what that speech was about. Keeping things simple makes for a lasting effect.
- Convince the audience to listen:
- Great presenters raise a need that the entire audience can feel. In your presentation, there needs to be multiple entrance paths to get aboard your speech. Offer multiple ways for people to start caring about what you’re talking about and meet the need that is relevant to your audience. A great presentation maintains suspense and tension with the audience. Tension keeps people listening, so don’t give anything away too fast and answer the right questions throughout your speech creating a build.
Learning how to create and deliver a great speech will put you leaps and bounds ahead of many people in this competitive field. Master speech giving, and you will feel like you can change the world. Put please, unless you are the next founder of a multi-trillion dollar company, leave the New Balance sneakers at home.
Here are the links to some of my favorite speeches by great presenters:
“Stories are the most powerful delivery tools for information, more powerful and enduring than any other art form.” -Nancy Duarte, Resonate