Whenever someone approaches me and wants to improve their public speaking, inevitably one of the questions that come up is, How to present?
Often what someone is looking for to get started is tips on how to present.
This in turn helps build their courage, because they feel confident that they have these public speaking tips at their fingertips.
The reality is there is no right or wrong set of tips as much will depend on what you are presenting, the audience, the outcomes and much more.
In fact, my total communication mastery system is built around providing you with as many communication tools as possible, which you can pull upon depending on what situation you are in. Including getting ready to present!
With this in mind, let me get you started with some of the most important tips I would share with anyone coming to me with this question.
Tip 1: Content
The first question is this, what is the content?
If you said to me, the content is incredibly detailed, very mathematically based, very fact-driven.
That style of delivery is most likely going to yield itself to a PowerPoint presentation, where there’s a lot of detailed information being presented, with potential information involved.
So what you will need are slides to emphasise the key points, pieces of information or facts and figures you need to get across.
I also suggest you have a handout in front of them, so if they can’t read the slides, you can say it is on page 14 and then walk them through that.
So think about what you need to prepare and how to present it depending on the content you are delivering.
A startup pitch is different to a financial analysis of last quarters performance.
Tip 2: What you use to present
In my CWI system, we have 38 components.
Without going into lots of detail there are four styles of communication.
For example, when you deliver content that’s factual you’re delivering in a messenger style. Think of a teacher delivering a class to a group of students. Most of their presentation will be delivered in one style – messenger.
On the other hand, it might be that the content is very personal and you’re presenting to a small group of people about personal challenges you have overcome on your path to your best life.
This is a different presentation together, it’s more intermate and softer in terms of ‘content’ that is being delivered. But in contrast to the first example, your audience will feel more than they think as part of this presentation.
To really evoke that feeling in your audience, you will want to present using the delivery style – vulnerable and empathetic. Remember, we’re not delivering information here – so we will have less messenger, more emotive styles.
This is a very deep subject and the best public speakers use all four delivery styles, more on this in tip 3.
How to present in this situation?
I would recommend softening your presentation right down. So you don’t need a slide projector, but you might want to have a microphone. You might decide to sit on a stool for the majority of the talk. (Imagine that picture in your mind, if you were in the audience, would you feel more connected to the speaker?)
Let’s look at a different example, it might be a charity event and you’re presenting so you need a mixture of the empathetic delivery style as well as the messenger delivery style (remember, factual information). So in this case you might have slides because you need to combine information with emotional influence to get the result you need for the charity.
I’ve done this before at charities where you’re communicating in such a way that you’ve got a very strong emotional message going out and to back up that message you need facts and figures. This will create engagement which turns into influence.
So think first about what content you are producing and what communication style you will need to use. This will determine how you present. Ultimately, sometimes you need visuals like a photograph, slides, spreadsheet, some factual data. Something that grabs their attention and is relevant to what you are presenting.
Finally, the content and what you’re trying to get across does ultimately affect the style of delivery that comes to tip 3.
Tip 3: Delivery Style
I started to introduce the concept of delivery style in tip 2. It’s essential to learning how to present. Being able to understand and apply different delivery styles when presenting will put you in the 1% bracket of master public speakers. But it takes work and has to come from an authentic place.
So firstly, consider these questions:
- What is the general style you’re going in with?
- Are you going to be relaxed?
- There’s the style in terms of how you look?
- What are you wearing?
- Is the intention here to come across in a: Relaxed way, formal way, authoritative way?
Decide and define what that is for you. And what you want them to feel whilst they’re listening to you.
How do you want to walk away feeling? And what the impact of your message is.
With all of the above considered and defined, now you can decide on a delivery style combination and talk into that space.
And, of course, there are the four styles I teach in detail:
- The vulnerable
The best communicators on the planet are able to use all of these when thinking about how to present.
Using a combination of delivery styles
Most people are one-dimensional and they’re delivering in one style. Think back to the teach example above. This isn’t a dig at teachers because I’ve trained some phenominal teachers. But there’s a reason why kids get bored and zone out. Because the teacher is delivering in only the messenger style.
Would you remain engaged for 60 minutes if all you was listening to was facts in the same mono-tone style?
To build layers onto the previous tips in this post, the reality is, you can take any public tak in many directions. The problem with this is, the listener will get confused.
Which brings us back to the question (knowing what you know now) – How to present as a public speaker?
Here are a list of core questions for not just presenting, but any communication you enter:
- What is the outcome you want to achieve?
- Are you wanting to persuade them to do something eg. give money to charity?
- Do you want to sell them on something, an idea or product?
Previously I said, whatever the content is affects how to present. Now we’re building a layer on to that, which is more advance. Where whatever the outcome is, affects how to present eg. relaxed, formal, impactful, very big, visuals, big stage, performance, motivational, inspirational and more.
Have a think about, what’s the ultimate outcome you want to achieve. And then match and marry all the delivery styles, leading up to the final outcome.
This means there will be multilpe delivery styles being used in that one presentation. Think about where to use what in advance of your presentation.
Tip 4: Getting Impact
Finally, think about how are you going to get an impact with your visuals and your vocal presentation?
For example, if I’m sat down in a chair, relaxed and chatting to you that may have a very different impact to say if I was stood back, moving my hands around and saying look at that slide there, then walking across talking to one group over to left, pausing to expand on my explanation, then walking across talking to another group over on the right, returning to sit on a stool in the middle of the room and shifting to a different deliery style.
I know you can’t see me do this, but imagine the movement and presentation taking place.
Now when I talk about this in the Communicating With Impact live events we talk about spatial anchors.
A spatial anchor in practice for example is, talking to you about a very specific message in one area and move to another place with a different type of message (and different delivery style).
This then creates an association with a type of message, which the audience automatically acknowledges as the presentation goes on. Again this is an advance technique, but look out for the best public speakers use this when you next attend a talk.
Be a good student and observe their skills in practice.
When you attend one of my live events, I will actually talk you through exactly what I am doing as I teach you my system.
In addition, to create impact you want to apply all the tips I have mentioned so far and use:
- Vocal Power
- Visual Tools
- Physiology – especially hands and feet
- Body Gestures and language – what are your eyes doing?
You’ll find that communication is layered, it’s complex and there are components all working in harmony together. That is why the tips you have learned today all connect with one another. In communication there is no stand alone ‘tip’.
So take this approach and what you’ve learned here and start to apply if to how to present in your personal or professional setting.