Monday 12 November 2018

Not a Natural Born Speaker - some Tips

I love presenting, but I believe it is my passion for the content that delivers it, not any natural born ability.

I am very lucky I don't suffer from nerves, well not about the actual speaking, more 'will anyone be interested in what I have to say?' I have taken to bribing at overseas conferences, bring a tub of quality street and everyone wants to hear your story. In America I have the added advantage of 'a lovely English accent' - I don't do too bad.

Today I was presenting in South Africa, and half way through I could see a couple in the audience who looked lost. I looked back at the screen to see I had skipped a slide and what I was saying had no correlation to the slide being projected. Flustered, I stopped, Told the audience I had messed up and went back. They still laughed at my awful jokes, so I was happy.

I follow a number of self improvement, motivational people, one of which is Andy Bounds. in the last month he has had two blogs about Presenting with his top 10 tips for a bulletproof presentation

The tip about links resonated with me. When I am switching between slides and a demo, I add a posit to the slide to say 'demo' - so I don't forget where I am

The top tip for me here was practice, I rarely present to my colleagues and I should do more, they will give more honest feedback. 

I thought it would be great to share them with those perhaps just starting their speaking career.

Sign up for Andy's newsletters there are lots more tips.

Then I thought I'd add a few of my own:

Make sure you have a backup on a USB stick
If there is a problem with your laptop or even more likely the connectivity with the venue AV, you may still be able to run from a USB on their equipment. I know that isn't possible if you are demoing something on your laptop, but it has been a lifesaver for me.
Also if you are using a cloud demo, include the links on the stick.

Setup your Powerpoint Slideshow in 'Browse by an individual (window mode)' 
This allows you to swap windows without coming out the presentation. I wish I had know this years ago, would have saved me lots of fiddling around in front of the audience.

Ask for feedback
Not just 'did you like it' or the conference feedback, although that is equally important. But ask someone you see later, what did they really like and was there any part they didn't understand?

Understand why you present, your USP
I'm not technical, but what I bring is an understanding of the technology to the business. I did think was one-way, but I often get technical people who attend and tell me afterwards I made them consider the business impact / considerations. There needs to be more dialogue between tech and business and I happy if I facilitate that. 
If I compared myself to great technical speakers in my area I would fail, but I am not trying to do the same thing.

And to finish with another comment from Andy:

"as Bob Monkhouse used to say, presentations are all about your ABC and XYZ – Always Be Confident, and Xamine Your Zipper!"

1 comment:

Andy Bounds said...

Love this blog Debra.

I particularly liked how you recovered when you realised it wasn’t going as planned. We’ve all had to do that (let’s face it... has any presentation - and its audience reaction - ever gone 100% as the presenter expected?!)

Three key words to remember when presenting - ‘success not perfection’. It’ll never be perfect. So don’t aim for it. Instead, make sure it’s successful.

So that your audience and you think it was time well spent.

So that you both enjoyed it.

And most importantly of all, so that they did what you wanted after hearing you.