PEOPLE PERFORMANCE PLUS                                       




  Engage your audience.

 A to Z of presenting.

 5 Top tips to keep your audience    awake.



Be engaging with your audience

.Regardless of size involve your audience. Your material will be more memorable and you will probably be asked back.

Tell a story. People remember stories; they add impact, set the scene, tune the audience into the tone of your work and are fun to do. Your story will be relevant to the topic, personal to something you or someone you know well has done. One way is to make a point, and link that to what the audience needs by telling a story.

When I speak on enhancing leadership skills I make a point that leaders are expected to lead change and make decisions. The audience will usually nod and smile knowingly. I link that to handling difficult staff in times of change.

Many of the audience will be in a position to make similar decisions to the one I made; they are therefore interested in hearing what I did. I tell a story about a staff member who was not fulfilling her contact of employment. Clearly my tactful approach did not go according to plan, yet offered me significant growth, as a leader. I finish by asking the audience to think of a situation when they were less than ready to speak to a difficult staff member, what they did about it and what they would do differently now. The impact of sharing my story encourages discussion.

Questions You involve people by asking questions. If you notice what happens when someone asks a question, your brain automatically sifts through memory to find an answer. In other words you are involved with the speaker. If you do not want them to answer then  phrase it as a rhetorical question.  For example with leaders “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be Nelson Mandella?”  If you want them to respond ask them to raise hand, stand up, sit down; anything that gets them moving and engaged with your content.

Link to them emotionally
Be direct and use the word “you”. Even with large audiences using “I believe you will choose to … “; “are you aware of” .. makes it very personal. A word of advice: using plural  words such as “ well folks”, “ Guys”, “People” “ all of you” is impersonal and shuts down people. I often start with a song, it surprises the audience and allows me to make a point or ask a question when I have finished.

Be seen, be heard, be great
60% of information comes through the visual & emotional modes. Check your material is lively and upbeat. Is your material good to look at and easy to read? Consider how to connect through your visual aids, perhaps give out objects they can touch & interact with.

Engaging with your audience needn’t be hard with a little creativity. Keep them thinking all the way through, then they will effectively listen to you and take away all you have to say.

January 04



A to Z of presenting in public

A Audience. Try and find out as much about your expected audience as you can. If you are using examples make them relevant to the group, avoid jargon, keep the talk at a level that will be effective for the majority of the audience.

B Breathing is a vital part of the presentation skills, practice sighing, ughing, eeing, aaing and diaphragmatic breathing. It keeps the squeaks out and the projection in. A voice coach can to develop this lifelong skill. All the strange new noises may cause others in your family to laugh, which stops you taking yourself too seriously. Talking should be fun for you too!

C Cards. You may like to use cards that fit into your palm to put the main points on, particularly if you are forgetful or inclined to get off track when passionate about the topic. Remember only brief points not the whole talk on the cards. They can boost confidence.

Don’t let your ego get in the way of the message. Some audiences react badly to a speaker who knows it all, and doesn’t allow the audience to participate or offer suggestions.

E Equipment, nowadays you will be offered a range of audiovisual equipment. Experiment before hand and always have backup for when the laptop, bulb, or electricity fails.

Fun. Where possible work something into your presentation, which causes the audience to laugh or at least titter. They will pay attention and be more relaxed for you, which will help with any nerves you may have. After a while you will look forward to speaking and this improves your presentations.

G Good solid content matter. What ever you have been asked to speak on should be what you provide. You can be controversial if the occasion merits it and challenge the status quo thinking, but remember most people do not like change.

H Handouts. Used to interact with the audience or if there is too much material for people to take in. You may be encouraging membership by having handouts, and/or giveaways. Remember WIIFM (What’s in it for me), benefits are expected in return for giving up time to hear you speak.

I Introductions should be striking or topical, give outline, humorous or solemn dependant on the occasion.

Judgement. Judging the mood of a room comes with experience and confidence. You will be able to scan an audience’s body language and know if you are stimulating them, a little chatter or murmur in big audiences means that they are sharing with each other, that will be ok provided they are still looking your way most of the time. Leaning forward looking at you, smiling or nodding are all positive signals. If it is not working, stop and invite the audience to share their concerns with you. Everyone will get what he or she wants when this happens.

K Keep eye contact with most of the audience when you are speaking. In a large group it helps to settle you and for a small group it engages you closer to the audience.

L Listening is also a part of speaking. Pick up ideas prior to standing that you could put into your talk about what is important to your audience. Remembering the names of your host comes from listening too. Etiquette requires you know who is in your audience, if opening an event.

M Music. If music is playing at the venue, ask the staff or your host to switch off just before you start using a pre-arranged signal. Using music with your presentations can be very effective, follow the tips in equipment, and check that where you are speaking has a music licence or get one your self approx. $ 100 per annum. Remember not all computers attached to LCD projectors have sound cards. Also music and graphs eat up memory.

Noisy audiences. If you can get your hosts to ask for quiet do so, but if you are in control then consider these tips. Smiling reassures the rest of the audience you are in control. Walk closer to the noisy ones, stop talking until silence resumes, use their name, and invite them to share.

O   Organisation is paramount, if you are using equipment or handouts, fitting in behind other speakers or dinner then you need to be organised on the day. Organisation also extends to keeping the function people aware of your expectations or requirements. Contact them if they have not contacted you, then there is no room for error.

P Planning is vital. For every 15 mins of talk you do there is 1-1.25 hours of preparation and planning behind you. You can wing it, and may have to but this is not honouring your audience. Likewise, it is better to have a few “stories” that make the point ready for you to pull out and use when appropriate.

Q   Questions. Fielding questions can be rewarding, For a start you know your audience has listened enough to ask questions. If you know the content well you should be able to answer. If you do not know the answer admit it, throw the question out to the audience, someone else may know. You may like to offer to get back later and remember to do so.

R Rooms, make sure you know the type of room you will be in or quickly get used to “seeing “ a room and summing up how to best project your message in the room. Lots of material and carpets muffle quiet voices, if you have a very quiet voice consider carrying a portable microphone or invest in a voice coach.

S Style, you have to choose a style of speaking that will compliment the audience and bring out the best in you. Are you there to entertain, to inform or explain, to sell or persuade or to develop or train the audience? Each requires your material to be pitched differently.

T Timing cannot be emphasised enough, if you have a set time stick to it, no one likes a windbag. For a 30 minute talk, that will probably have someone take 5mins introducing you (unless you give them a short profile which is highly recommended), allow yourself 3-4 mins introduction, 5 mins conclusion and time for 1-2 questions. This results in you having about 15 mins to sell, persuade, inform, explain, or entertain the audience. It is not long. You will only get 2-3 main points over.

U Use stories, and anecdotal points about your life and relationships when speaking to groups of women, try sport or business when your audience is mainly men.

V   Your Voice is an instrument; it needs cleaning, tuning, and careful handling if it is to be used to project a strong image. Watch that you drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol until after you have spoken if possible.

Where do you stand? Front Centre Stage is the strongest point, use this for persuasion and emphasis, right and left front of stage (or table) are both acceptable points to present information. Step to back right or left (left is probably weakest) to enable audience to think about what you are saying – you fade out a bit) IT offers emphasis when you return to the forward positions.

X   Xenophobia – beware of a strong dislike of foreigners; if your message is “alien” to the audience don’t be surprised if they reject the concept. Use as many ways as possible to promote the messages.

Y   You are the person they have invited to speak. Get used to being stared at, if you are shy, work on distancing yourself from the audience using visionary techniques. Very good content takes the fear away.

Z   Zoom in at conclusion on the main purpose of the talk, particularly when seeking financial or emotional support for work. Consider exposure to as many senses as possible in the conclusion. Remember the fireworks display is noisiest and most spectacular at the end.

© 2001 Arlene Quinn All rights reserved.


5 Top tips to keep your audience awake!


Tip 1:  Find out something about at least 3 people in the audience that is related to your topic. Bring these points out when the group seems to be flagging. Encourage them to expand on the point, be prepared to step in if they are embarrassed, you want the audience to remain on your side.

Tip 2:  Move around, don't stand behind something unless you are making a point that requires you to stand left centre stage and command the group. Movement,  except when it is jerky or irritating, makes the audience  focus and refocus on you rather like how they would respond when normally taking in information. (just try staring at the same spot for 15 minutes and find out how motivated you are to learn more!)

Tip 3: Work on your endings and curiosity. Know what you will end with and try to theme your presentation so it works up to the ending. I once brought a box on stage with me and started by opening the end  then putting it down again, with a "we'll leave this till later", then several times I looked inside the box until finally I drew out the contents with a flourish to emphasis my ending point.

Tip 4:  Involve your audience, get them to share one point about the speaking topic so far; or one point they will take away to act on.

Tip 5: Be as excited about your topic as you would wish your audience to be. Don't say "this is a boring bit!". Be positive!