Whether it’s in front of a potential customer, in front of the board or in front of a room of industry movers-and-shakers, at some point, many of us have had to give a presentation. For some, this situation immediately sets off alarms in your head, and causes your palms to sweat and your mouth to get dry. Why do we get nervous? Because we know the audience is judging our every move. During the presentation, we know that we must persuade the audience, convince them and engage them.
Making a presentation can cause a lot of pressure. And because of that, some executives will spend thousands of dollars on presentation coaches to prep them to be more persuasive presenters. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share some insights from former presentation coach, Kristi Hedges. Having worked with hundreds of company leaders, she shares her key tips in her book, Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. In her Forbes article, “Confessions of a Former Public Speaking Trainer: Don’t Waste Your Money,” Hedges makes these recommendations. Some of them might surprise you.
1 . There is not one right way to present. Speaker training is helpful if you want to be a professional speaker, but most of us are in the business of simply engaging our audience and building our level of influence. Speaking coaches have all types of mantras and styles. For example, some will tell you to use big gestures, and others will tell you to use no gestures. Hedges says that the type of presentation ability that propels careers and creates followers comes from the inside out. You can learn it—but not in a presentation training class on superficial attributes. This must come from the inside out. Your style is what works for you.
2. You don’t need rules. Many people who use coaches go in with the attitude that there are black and white rules to follow to be an effective speaker. While there are some basics, such as don’t hide behind your PowerPoint slides, Hedges notes that most great presenters all have different techniques. Some presenters appear smooth and polished, while others don’t. What makes a presenter successful is the way that individual has presence in front of the room and how engaging that person is with the audience.
3. Authenticity comes first. The No. 1 ingredient to having presence is authenticity. This is why people get nervous speaking. It’s because the audience is judging you on your authenticity. As humans, we immediately can tell if someone cares, is genuine. As Hedges says, authenticity creates a trust bond and establishes credibility. The rest of the presentation rules become superfluous.
4. You already have these skills. Believe it or not, you can save yourself a lot of time and money honing your presentation skills because you already have this ability within you. Authenticity comes naturally to us in the right situations. For example, when you are in a relaxed setting sharing ideas or conversing with family or friends, you are your authentic self. It’s when we get nervous and anxiety-ridden that we can come across as less than authentic. The body language you use to be present and influential on stage should be the same body language you use when talking to your friends around the table. That style is authentic to you, so begin to take note of these relaxed situations and try to emulate these skills that are unique to you.
PCT returns to your inbox tomorrow with more authentic ways to be successful.
Source: Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. She blogs at kristihedges.com.