Yesterday, I completed a two-and-a-half week public speaking marathon: I gave nine presentations in Canada and England. My most intense day was on Tuesday when I gave three presentations across 2,000 miles in 23 hours. It was intense, long day.
One of the challenges of public speaking is keeping presentations engaging. Entertainers face a similar challenge. I remember a friend sharing a quote from Colm Wilkinson’s when he was asked about playing the Phantom of the Opera every night. He said, “You have to remember that each member of the audience is seeing your performance for the first time.”
Mike Mandel, the master hypnotist who I had hired to coach a sales team said, “I always change 10 percent of my material so if people compare sessions they might share different things.”
Here are my tips for keeping a presentation fresh every time you present it:
- Create a bank of stories and examples to mix and match – from different industries and geographies, especially ones you don’t know well
- Customize your presentation for each audience – only present what they need
- Make it interactive – poll the group, ask for examples, invite people to challenge your thinking
- Use different exercises to achieve the same objectives
- Vary the length of your presentation – this week I gave 45, 60 and 90 minutes sessions
- Rewrite your slides – even the ones you love
- Prepare different scenarios and ask your audience to pick the one that is most beneficial
- Move the furniture around – rooms with or without tables have different dynamics
- Change how you dress – I act differently when wearing a suit and tie
- Change your introduction including how you represent yourself – the themes you present will carry throughout your presentation
The effort is worth it. I have never seen an audience get excited or inspired by a presenter who isn’t excited or inspired. The good news is that you are already half way there; the audience members are seeing your material for the first time.