However, if your colleague responds to your original question by describing how people benefit from their job, you will have a much better idea of its significance.
The next time you speak to an audience, if you can bring out that "human value," you will be much more successful getting your point across. Think of yourself as an artist painting a picture. The artist who illustrates the most effectively will be remembered.
Right and Wrong
In my training seminars, I have found that there are key elements that make presenters either memorable or candidates for the "Sominex Poster Child." The number-one mistake in presentations or media interviews is lack of preparation. Nervousness is directly related to your degree of preparation. The number-two mistake, and one that is overlooked by even the experts, is trying too hard to impress. That can lead to the following mistakes:
- Using too much industry jargon
- Speaking in an unemotional tone
- Using too many statistics
- Being flat-out boring
When you are guilty of some or all of the above, your audience will appreciate you - not for your excellent presentation but for the good sleep you have inspired.
Try the following tips to add power and life to your presentations and media interviews:
- Speak in plain language. Remember that even though you may be addressing colleagues, they may eventually have to interpret your perspective to a layperson (a doctor to a patient or a lawmaker to constituents). This way, you're not only helping them understand your side, you're helping them communicate it and sell it to others.
- Control your emotions. Too much emotion is not good, but don't let that keep you from emphasizing certain key words and phrases. Proper emphasis shows you believe in what you're saying. This is where rehearsal helps. I recommend not only practicing in front of a mirror (at least ten times), but also with a recorder.
- Mix it up. Statistics are necessary to make a point, but be honest with yourself: When was the last time you enthusiastically sat through a lengthy slide show filled with charts, graphs, and statistics - especially after a nice, big, sleep-inducing lunch? Can you truly say that you enjoyed every minute of it? Slide shows are effective when they're mixed with real stories, videos, and other media elements.
- Be human. Anecdotes help make your point better than anything. One way to impress your audience is with stories about real experiences you've had that illustrate your point. Remember, however, to keep your stories short.
- Humor makes a big difference. Many people are afraid of telling a joke and falling flat on their face. Try telling the joke to friends (make sure they're good friends) before a presentation.
In many cases, your audience really wants to be sold on your message. That's a big advantage to you. Not following the above steps can quickly "unsell" an audience.
How do you know if you've accomplished your presentation's objective? It's vital to allow evaluations. Don't let the criticism discourage you; learn from it!
An evaluation sheet should make optional the name and address of the participant. It should also allow general comments. It's up to you whether to let participants grade you on a scale of one to five, or ask specific questions such as, "Was the presenter able to answer questions thoroughly?"
How many speeches or presentations have you attended lately? Which ones do you remember and why? Keep in mind that, like you, your audience has heard countless presentations. Yours must stand out! Do it with human stories and your own anecdotes.
By making your audience remember, you will add power to your presentations and help sell your industry and your messages.