“Top-Notch Tools”, Part I, gave you some hands-on tools —from my favorite timer to a must-read blog — to make a good presentation even better when the stakes are high.
Now, let’s continue the conversation with a discussion of intangible resources — things that you don’t go out and buy, but that can make a significant difference in the strength and effectiveness of your communication nonetheless:
6. Time. One of the most precious resources you can give to yourself is time. Time to think. Time to clarify your message. Time to develop that one-sentence lead-off that sets a tone of excitement and anticipation. Once you’re confident in your message, you need time to refine its delivery to ensure that you do much more than simply convey information…you inspire action that achieves results.
7. Room. It may sound funny, but you really do need room to rehearse — a space that mimics the size of the presentation room whenever possible so you can get a sense of what it means to “own the room.” Why? Because your environment impacts your presentation style. For example, if you’re presenting on a large stage, you should practice in a room that offers the same sense of breadth and scope. On the flip side, if you’re presenting in a small conference room, you’ll want to create a more intimate feel — and adapt your presentation style accordingly.
8. Other Presenters. We each bring our own personality to the stage. But highly effective speakers are always looking for new ways to express themselves and their ideas to maximum effect. One of the best ways is to watch how others deliver a speech. What works? What doesn’t? What inspires you? Fortunately, it’s never been easier to see other people speak, so take advantage of this virtually endless resource. Whether it’s at work or in the community, on TV, or on YouTube, critically assess and use what you see to build on your own presentation style.
9. Feedback. Listener feedback is the breakfast of champions. You can’t take your speaking skills to the next level without it — so ask for it! Ask a trusted colleague to watch for particular strengths and weaknesses, or to evaluate the overall structure and effectiveness of your core message. Not in a position to receive feedback from listeners? Record your presentation and critique yourself. It’s the only way to find out how you’re perceived by others when you speak.
10. High Expectations. In all my years of coaching executives for presentations, I rarely run across someone who has both the time and inclination to do what it takes to deliver a great speech. Surprisingly, many of these high achievers settle for simply average — something they’d never do in any other aspect of their lives. Why set the bar low for yourself and your listeners? When you aim high, you expect to go beyond the ordinary. And when you do, you’ll deliver a presentation that will inspire and enrich your audience.
By incorporating some of the above presentation intangibles — along with the hands-on tools we reviewed in Part I — you’re guaranteed to bring your “A game” to your next presentation opportunity, and gain some inspired new fans in the process.