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.
I am really enjoying presenting at conferences. Attendees are interested in my topics and are willing participants in dialogues. They also have a host of good and bad experiences around change that adds flavour and relevance to the sessions.
Beyond the thrill of presenting, I have the opportunity to learn from other presenters. I was keen to see Marshall Goldsmith open the HRANS conference a week ago. He was voted the #1 leadership thinker and #7 business thinker in the world at the Thinkers 50 ceremony sponsored by the Harvard Business Review. He is also a million-selling author and editor of 31 books. His list of accomplishment is massive.
Marshall was sharing concepts from his latest book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. I like the title, which reminds me of the saying, “If you keep doing the same things you will get the same results”; you need new thinking, actions and behaviours to get to the next level.
|I’m In Very Good Company
I sat up front to get the most out of his talk. Marshall was a fun speaker. He said that he is a Buddhist and gives everything away that he creates on his website. Marshall explained, “We all will be equally dead, so might as well. The world becomes a better place because of what we do.” I liked him before he started speaking on his topic.
Here is what I learned from his presentation style:
- Laugh at your jokes, it makes them funnier
- Engage attendees in an activity every 20 minutes, even if it is a group of over 150 people!
- Illustrate points with as many personal life examples as professional ones
- Be generous ̶ it shows
- Invite people to choose one idea they believe will help them and reinforce the need to do it to get the benefit
- Leave the audience with three key messages
After Marshall’s talk, I approached him and thanked him for his advice. I asked him if anyone had come up to him after a talk to offer their help to him with no strings attached. Marshall said he would have to think about that but he didn’t think so. That was my one idea from his session and I am now sending him an email with my offer of help. No strings attached.