When I give a talk on how to give a great presentation, I always ask about people’s past experiences. There are always some people in these sessions who answer that when it comes to presentations, “they can’t wait to get it over with.”
I try to get them to see things differently. I tell them that every presentation is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to get their ideas and thoughts out there to an audience that is [usually] listening. Even at home, people don’t give you as much attention as an audience at one of your presentations.
When you give a presentation, it’s a chance to show what you know. It’s a chance to influence other people. It’s a chance to shine.
And more and more, it’s a chance to show that you are someone who can lead. Give a rousing speech, like Martin Luther King or President Obama, and others will see you as someone they want to follow.
I know why people get nervous. The stakes can be high and the effects of a bad presentation can be costly.
I’ve heard a lot of awful presentations in my life, but one of the worst I heard was from a CEO who spoke at the American Chamber of Commerce Japan three years ago. Soon after that speech, he was fired. I’m sure it was more than the speech that caused his sacking, but it might well have been the nail that went into his coffin.
Give a great talk or presentation, and it can propel your career to a much higher level. Give a bad one, and you just might be passed over.
Why? Because leadership truly is not only about setting strategy, goals and objectives. It’s about igniting the fire that is inside all of us to excel. It’s about getting others to take action.
That’s why besides all the usual stuff, like eye-contact, great message, practice, and story-telling, I tell people to make sure that they fill the room when they talk.
Talk so your voice and your presence fills the room. Make sure your message reaches the back of the auditorium, meeting room or the entire conference table. Don’t talk just to the person with the highest position, or those in the front row.
Walk around. Don’t hug the podium. Be as confident as you can. Make your presence so compelling that people want to listen. Stand as tall as you are, make eye contact with those who are listening, and get your message out with pride and passion. Don’t hide. Enjoy and savor every moment.
Fill the room like you are a great smelling perfume that everyone wants to sniff.