Written by Ken Ingram, MQA
Conference Speaker & Business Trainer
Whatever you do or wherever you go, at some point in your business life you will be challenged to speak in front of a group of people. When such occasions present themselves, you will have no choice but to step up and inevitably be in the spotlight. It can be the scariest event in the life of your business and your moment to shine.
I often find that people who are comfortable speaking in front of a group, are also comfortable with the process of selling. However, your position might not be in a role that requires you to speak with groups of people. Therefore, I propose that you invest in developing your presentation skills in 2019. Imagine for a moment, you are at an important transportation conference or networking opportunity and they announce that each person will have the chance to come forward to give an organized sixty-second infomercial about how their company’s infrastructure ideas are unique and different.
Now, if you were to do a survey and evaluate your frame of mind and some of the others in the room, you would most likely learn that on a scale of one to ten that half the room would be in panic mode. Speaking in public is not something most people are comfortable doing, so a significant spike in stress levels can be expected because the organizers have just created a very uncomfortable situation. When this happens, it is your professional responsibility to maintain control of your stress and attitude in order to project a consistent level of confidence. Your company and employees are counting on you to be a leader and for you to stand out.
One of the typical key mistakes many people make in this situation, is “rambling on”. To avoid doing this, one thing that you can do that will make your presentation more powerful and effective, is to take pauses. Pauses will help to emphasize, and more importantly ensure, that your message is clear and to the point.
I have often been told that it is not that I speak slowly but rather that I speak clearly. I do pause as appropriate, and it helps to add value, curiosity and drama to the message. When speaking in public, the most challenging thing to do is often small things such as key pauses. With practice you can master using pauses in any circumstance and it will benefit your sales message.
Mark Twain, “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
Here is one additional tip a colleague taught me. Most people cannot tolerate the vacuum of silence. So, when you are in a negotiation, a simple well-placed pause can make a significant difference because the one who speaks less usually wins. The one who blinks tends to give away more information and even more concessions. Take this idea for a test drive and let me know the results.
Plato, “Wise men talk because they have something to say;
fools, because they have to say something.”
Once you have stated your position – stop talking and listen. Remember that every effective public presentation should not be about making noise, rather about your selection of carefully articulated words and pauses which are positioned between each thoughtful word.
Here are some ideas: first, make a list of some of the best speakers / presenters that you know and take note of their style; second, practice what you have observed and learned. Your level of confidence will soar!
One of the first things I learned, and personally adopted, was if you must give a speech, then practice what you will say out loud so you can hear your voice and how it will sound. The second, is that if you need to read notes then jot them down in “breath-size”; bites then break them up so that they can be read with purposeful pauses.
I have been interviewed for radio, television and events where I have spoken with calmness and clarity. You can master these skills through practice and some coaching. For most of us who love to talk, changing our habits and behaviors will require incredible self-discipline and self-confidence. Because to know one’s self, means that you need to ask yourself some difficult questions and tolerate some discomfort and uncertainty. They say that the future belongs to storytellers because we think in pictures not in words and I have also read a few books that described the sharing of ideas like being part of the idea delivery system. Therefore, the more effective we are at communicating our thoughts and ideas, the more successful we become.
What is important for you is to develop the ability to share ideas by painting pictures in the minds of everyone you are speaking or interacting with in any given situation. As an example, Charlie, a friend of mine, approached me about one year ago; he was attending a competition in Florida to win twenty thousand dollars. We met and together worked on his ability to paint images of his vision in the minds of the judges. It was one of the most fun-filled couple of hours we shared. It never takes long to learn the basics, but then you need to practice, practice and practice! They say that the motive of all learning is repetition. Well then: repetition is practice! My friend took all the tips and advice that he had learned from our coaching session together and executed his presentation with Swiss watch precision in 3.5 minutes. The outcome: the judges awarded him with the twenty-thousand-dollar cheque! Imagine if you could achieve a similar feat for your business; how would you feel?
So, ignore the voices of self-doubt and any feeling of nervousness. Focus your energy into acting at ease. Smile, maintain posture and convey confidence. Shoulders back, head up and make eye contact. Through experience and practice you can master your fears and become a picture of self confidence. Practice makes perfect and enables you to pave your way to become the master of your destiny. Want to learn more about our ideas, we are just an email or phone call away;