1. To influence: are you speaking a universal truth, or your own?
If as a presenter we generalise about things that aren’t true for our audience, they’ll usually disconnect, and the opportunity to influence disappears. And if you think this doesn’t apply to you, it’s worth a check-in: it’s surprisingly common.
Some sentence starters to be aware of when you speak:
“We all appreciate that…” – are you sure?
“Of course you know…” – do we?
“We’ve all felt/done/heard…” – have we?
Any of these can create a barrier between speaker and audience. If I feel “you’re not talking to me” , you lose me.
The speaker may lump their audience into a specific category:
- We have a family and that’s what drives us.
- We’re really looking forward to Christmas (I don’t mean to sound like Scrooge, but not always!).
- We can’t wait for the weekend (surely this one is out of date).
It’s definitely worth checking your assumptions about your audience before you speak, and I’ve written a longer piece with suggestions on how to do this using your truth or universal truth.
2. To engage: get to the point
Are you what I call an expander? Do you either love to talk, or are unsure what to add or leave out, so throw everything in, just in case?
Attention spans are short, people are tired: don’t add more content than you need to. Particularly if you’re giving background context, or telling a story; both are danger areas to elaborate unnecessarily.
A big part of being a good speaker or presenter is to be clear and succinct. Leave us wanting more.
More on being succinct.
3. Confidence-building: a thought about self-worth
An idea which stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it:
You could stop working, or focusing on any other ways you contribute to the world right now, and you’d still have intrinsic self-worth. You’re worthy just because you exist.
For someone like me who was brought up to tie my self-worth into my achievements, this was a radical thought. To be ‘enough’ without doing another thing in the world?
This doesn’t mean of course that we don’t continue to contribute or do activities that we feel are important. And by contributing with a sense of generosity rather than obligation, we definitely build our self-worth.
What it does mean is that we base our self-worth on our inherent value, based on our own uniqueness. Not on our external actions.
Best wishes with your public speaking and presentations! See you in two weeks.