Over the course of your personal and professional life, you’ve probably seen some truly terrible presenters, and a handful of really great ones. While it might be tempting to try and mimic the best of the best the next time you find yourself behind the podium, chances are your attempt will fall flat. Why? Because you are not that presenter.
Great presentations aren’t about being funny, quick-witted or animated, they’re about connecting with your audience and being you. It may seem obvious and easy, but achieving authenticity in your presentations and allowing your personality to shine through is a talent that can take time to cultivate.
As communication coaches, we’ve worked with many Fortune 500 CEOs and well-known public speakers to help them hone their presentation skills and connect with their true selves. If you want to win over your audience each and every time you speak, consider these four tips to help you tap into the real you.
Ask Yourself if You Really Need Slides
Slides, and even notes, can become a prop that presenters hide behind. On the other hand, they can also hold valuable information for your audience and allow you to visually represent complex thoughts. The key is to know when you need them and when you don’t. Just remember that, despite the popularity of social media and ease of digital communication, people still prefer to engage with other people. To maintain authenticity, use technology sparingly and never read directly from slides or note cards.
Watch Your Word Choice
We speak differently than we write, which is why reading notes or slides can come off as robotic and lack authenticity. So don’t use language that you wouldn’t use in your everyday conversations. Your speech should have a natural flow, as though you are chatting one-on-one with a colleague or friend. You also want to keep in mind that trying to impress your audience with big SAT words will likely have the opposite effect and, if you want to sound authentic and credible, you should steer clear of buzzwords and slang.
Beware of Over-Rehearsing
Practice makes perfect, but when it comes to presenting, there is such a thing as practicing too much. If you memorize your speech and rehearse every gesture, you once again risk looking robotic and artificial. The presentation may be flawless, but the audience is still left feeling like the speaker wasn’t authentic. Of course, we don’t recommend winging it either. You want to find that sweet spot of just enough rehearsal to give you confidence, but not so much that you could deliver the speech in your sleep. Be prepared, yet flexible.
Don’t Hold Back
If you are normally animated, or talk with your hands, don’t force yourself to stand stoically and without expression. On the other hand, if you tend to be a quiet and reserved individual, exhibiting too much excitement or telling jokes can come off as insincere and contrived. Rather than engineering gestures, facial expressions and movements in your talk (i.e. “clasp hands here” or “pause and smile after x”), which can come off as unnatural and awkward, allow the message to direct you. Instead of focusing on the words, think about why you’re giving the speech and how you feel about it, and your natural expressions and gestures should come through on their own.
Looking for More Presentation Tips?
For decades, Worktank has helped senior leaders connect with their teams, and teams connect with their customers. Our Strategic Communication Services include audience analysis, content review and presenter training, all designed to help you deliver impactful messages and achieve authenticity in your presentations. To learn more, contact us or call 1-877-WRKTANK.