The aggressive presenter never actually physically hits his audience, but by the time he’s finished speaking they feel like they have been 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.
You might have experienced an aggressive speaker yourself. Their natural habitat is the hard sales environment, taking your objections one by one and crushing them in front of the assembled group.
The aggressive presentation style is characterised by
- Booming statements
- ‘Trick’ rhetorical questions designed to fool the audience into giving the wrong answer so that the presenter can demonstrate their expertise
- Statements that use such assertive language that the audience is scared to question their validity
- Points made and reiterated so many times that the audience can no longer be bothered to question them
- Laughter and derision from the presenter should the audience ask a question that is ‘silly’ or ‘obvious’
This is not to say that there is no place for the aggressive speaker in this world. If the aggressive speaker failed to make sales, or convert at least a very few, then they surely would have died a death by now.
The aggressive speaker will always point you to the few who buy as signs of their effectiveness, but how many leave the room disheartened, downtrodden and destroyed as well? These ‘unconverted’ dare not speak up for fear of booming reprisals from the aggressive speaker and so go uncounted in the success statistics of the speaker.
The evolution of the aggressive sales presenter is surely due. A presenter that can switch from aggressive to passive depending on the audience reaction, or even ,to suit individual points within the presentation.
Anyone with confidence can present aggressively. Real speaking skill, and effectiveness, comes from tailoring your delivery to suit your audience.
Infotainment – the combination of hard information or facts with entertainment content to increase popularity with customers.
If we are ever to be effective presenters, then our presentations need to become infotainment.
If we stand at the front of the meeting and read aloud the ten new staff policy rules for our business, then that is simply information.
For the majority, such information is boring, unengaging and quickly forgotten.
If we stand at the front of the meeting and dance to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, that’s entertainment.
Entertainment is memorable (!), engaging and much more interesting than just information.
The challenge for us as speakers is to turn our presentations into infotainment. The core message (information) that we need to get across, presented in a way that engages and interests our audience (entertainment).
Infotainment has come about because our world is becoming faster and more all-consuming. We have more messages to absorb, more choice and less time.
To be remembered, media now informs and entertains.
The rules are no different for our speeches – infotainment speaking is the solution!
If your information needs to stand out – it needs to be entertaining.
In the next thirty days I am quite literally all over the place!
I will be talking, training, visiting, schmoozing (!) and coffee-ing across the country.
It’s going to be busy, but great fun!
Talking is a large part of the next thirty days, so if you want to pick up some advanced presenting tips and tricks, please feel free to come along to any of the events below. I’ve added in links to the pages to register for each event – it would be great to see you there!
25th February – IOD Hampshire Sales & Marketing Forum – Pitch Perfect Every Time with the UK Business Speaker of the Year
From 7.30am at Natwest House, Chandlers Ford, Hampshire
Read more here
25th February – Inspire Business Forum – The Language of Leadership
From 5.30pm at the Hallmark Hotel in Bournemouth, Dorset
4th March – Lake Yard Business Breakfast – The Art of Making Concise Points Using PIES
From 8.00am at Lake Yard Marina, Poole, Dorset
This article on the power of your other half to help you with your public speaking seemed especially relevant with Valentine’s Day coming up on Friday…
J-Lo and Britney have their entourages – groups of people employed to cater for their every wish and desire, to ensure that they are in the perfect condition to give their very best performance.
As speakers, we generally don’t have a constant support group of 20+ people to help us be the best. Instead, we have a public speaking entourage of just one – our other half.
This other half doesn’t have to be a lover or a family member, they can simply be a close friend or our flatmate. All of the above form our public speaking entourage because they are there at our lowest and our highest moments.
The entourage is there when we’re banging the table with frustration at writer’s block.
They are there when we are pacing and rehearsing at midnight the evening before our BIG presentation.
They are even there to hear us when we are reciting our speech aloud in the shower, although they never talk of it, thankfully.
And the entourage is there when we arrive home after our BIG presentation, hyper, excited and contented.
They too are glad that it has gone well and greet us with the same enthusiasm, open ears and arms as if we had just flown to the moon and back.
We rarely thank our public speaking entourage. We rarely recognise their contribution of sound advice, opinion and all of those warm cups of coffee.
We never (in my experience) thank them at the end of our speech, preferring instead to lavish our gratefulness on our audience, our host and even our pet hamster before we mention our entourage back at home.
Without that entourage we may have given up when it got hard. We might never have known about that nervous tic that they pointed out to us during rehearsal and we may never have got any sleep the night before the big day.
If you’ve never turned to thank that one person that supports you through your speechmaking, do it today.
Because behind every polished speech is a little-recognised public speaking entourage!
(That last line is funny and original because PechaKucha actually means ‘Chit Chat’ in Japanese)
PechaKucha is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, meaning that every presentation lasts for no more than 6 minutes and 40 seconds.
In a world where our time is precious, PechaKucha is the antidote to pointless prolonged presentations. It’s rapid style means that the majority of PechaKucha presentations are high in energy and inspiration – the pace helps to create inspiration in the audience.
Having started in Tokyo by a team of architects, PechaKucha nights are now taking place all over the globe and generally consist of 8-14 presentations, usually around a creative theme.
I’m a big fan and that’s great, but why are we stopping there?
The golden rule of public speaking is that we should never say more than needs to be said. This aforementioned truth means that PechaKucha is a ready-made solution to inefficiencies in our UK businesses.
Imagine how efficient your business or organisation could be if presentations were allowed to be no longer than 6 minutes and 40 seconds – how much time would our senior management save over the course of a week, month and year?!
PechaKucha isn’t just idle PechaKucha (see, what I did there, again…) it’s time-saving, energy-generating, boredom busting public speaking straight from the Far East.
Forget Ancient Rome, this is the golden age of public speaking. Even Google tells us so (see the video below)
We are truly blessed. We have Powerpoint, we have the Internet, we have the microphones and therefore we have the power to influence our audiences more than ever before.
But with great power comes
great responsibility the opportunity for everything to fail.
I’d even go as far as to say (anecdotally) that at least 1 in 5 presentations experiences some kind of technical hiccup.
If we as speakers are to ensure that our message is not terminated by technology, then we need to be prepared for everything to fail.
Our preparation and rehearsal should always account for the ‘what ifs?’ and ensure we have solutions to even the greatest public speaking catastrophes.
(If you have a view on what the greatest public speaking catastrophe is, please send it in!)
Because if you can keep your head when all of the technology around you is breaking down, then you’ll be
a man my son the memorable speaker, my son.
Here’s my checklist of catastrophes to account for when planning a speech – I’d love to hear your suggestions too:
- Backup power supply for laptop
- Spare bulb for projector
- Handheld clicker to avoid any embarrassing ‘oops wrong slide’ gaffs
- Printout of slides in case I have to deliver the talk without any slideshow behind me
- A well written talk that makes sense without slides
- Batteries (for microphones and clickers!)
Some more suggestions from social media guru @alukeonlife on Twitter:
- Soluble aspirin and throat lozenges
- HDMI, VGA cables and any relevant chargers
- A safe version of slides: no transitions, fonts, clever stuff just images for each slide
Your first impression is more than just your speech
This blog is not about what we say in the opening line of our speech or presentation.
It’s about how we say it.
Thousands of blog posts have been written on the strength of a well-written opening line. But even the best works of Shakespeare will fall flat to our audience if we don’t deliver them properly.
And so, let this post be our warning, that simply writing that killer line is not enough.
We need it perfectly executed too.
Arms closed, no intonation, no smile, no warmth means we will lose our audience before we’ve even begun. The next time they’ll feel positively towards us will likely be when we let them go at the conclusion of our speech.
So, next time we write the perfect opening line, let us not write the second until we’ve made notes on exactly how that line should be delivered, lest we lose our audience at ‘Hello’!
Following on from an earlier post about making a speech versus delivering a speech (what’s your style?)…
A picture is worth a thousand words, but it needs to pass only three simple tests to ensure it adds value to our presentation.
At some point, we’ve all been a victim of the presenter that crams their Powerpoint full of distracting animations, grainy, irrelevant clip art and an awkward holiday snap.
When using images in presentations, we do not have to suffer the same fate.
Here’s three little tests to help you answer the big question: ‘should I use images in my presentation?’…
- Does it support the point that we are making?
- Does it demonstrate more to our audience than we could tell them in 30 seconds?
- Is it of high enough quality that it is visible clearly to everyone in the room?
A picture is worth a thousand words – but we must always make sure that they are the right words!
If we are looking for moral lessons to include in our speech, there are plenty out there for us to use.
“Slow and steady wins the race”
“Better to be safe than sorry”
“Don’t judge people by the way they look”
For children, we use fairy tales and fables to teach these moral lessons.
The challenge for us as speakers, teachers and storytellers to adults, is to convey those messages in a way that is engaging, entertaining and relevant for our grown-up audiences.
Unless you work at Disney, fairy tales don’t always go down well at big business presentations.
We must take our age-old moral stories and change the detail to make it relevant to our audience.
- The tortoise and the hare in the office.
- The three little pigs in the Internet age. (A good one for selling IT security?)
- The ugly duckling and advertising.
Presenting a convincing argument is often about making it relevant to our audience.
Morals will always be relevant – it just the stories we use to teach them that must change.
You may know a ‘so-so’ speaker. I knew one at university. This fellow student was known as ‘so-so’ because whenever he had to give a presentation, it always included the word ‘so’ at least 50 times. Once we realised this, sweepstakes were run on presentation days as to how many times the word ‘so’ would be used!
We all have our favourite words and ways of saying things.
In general conversation this is fine, but when we’re standing up for 20 minutes giving a presentation, repeating the same words or phrases regularly can make us appear unoriginal, disorganised and detract from the impact of our message.
It’s tough to think of original words when we’re on stage with the adrenaline pumping, so the best way to address repetition in our speech is during rehearsal.
As soon as you notice any words or phrases that you use regularly, grab the theasaurus and make a list of synonyms that can be used instead.
Stick this list wherever you spend the most time during the day – as a post-it note attached to your computer screen, your phone wallpaper or even on the ceiling above your bed.
Read the synonyms and then re-read them until they’re inside your mind.
When rehearsing you’ll quickly notice that these words spring to mind, as they’ve already been set there before the adrenaline has kicked in. Sorted!
I’ve used this tip myself, for the word ‘obviously’ which used to pop up every 30 seconds in my speeches, even when things weren’t obvious!
Believe it or not, David Beckham wasn’t born with a golden right foot.
Tiger Woods didn’t drive a golf ball 300 yards at the age of four.
Serena Williams couldn’t land her first ever over arm serve anywhere within the court.
They all succeeded by working on one thing at a time, until they got the perfect kick, swing or serve.
And yet, when we first start speaking in public, giving that first big keynote, presentation or pitch, right from day one we expect ourselves to be as perfect as the speakers we see on TV; the trained professionals, experts and world leaders.
Our first attempt is often us trying to deliver a speech that is perfect in every way, and we fail on all of them.
If there’s anything that we as speakers can learn from the sporting gods of our time, it’s that a little focus goes a long way.
Don’t try to be the perfect speaker from the start. We must focus on just three things to improve with each speech that we do.
The result? Continuous, effective improvement, until you’re the David Beckham of public speaking (Three things at a time!)
Below is a collection of some of the great speech quotes that have been generated today by figures around the world reflecting on Mandela’s death. It’s wonderful to see so many speakers in agreement on one topic and delivering inspirational, reflective lines that Mandela himself would of been proud of.
And it seems fitting to start with a comment on his own death by the great man himself.
Nelson Mandela comments on his own death:
Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.”
(FROM AN INTERVIEW FOR THE DOCUMENTARY MANDELA, 1994)
Jacob Zuma, South African President:
Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell.”
David Cameron UK Prime Minister:
Your generosity, compassion and profound sense of forgiveness have given us all lessons to learn and live by.”
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God”
One of the brightest lights of our world has gone out”
Barack Obama, President of the United States:
His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings – and countries – can change for the better.”
A man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”
Mary Robinson Former Irish President:
Why are we so bereft? Because he was the best of us, the best of our values.”
Enda Kenny, Irish Taoiseach:
The boy from the Transkei has finished his long walk. His journey transformed not just South Africa, but humanity itself.”
Muhammad Ali, sporting great:
What I will remember most about Mr. Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge.”
When you meet a traditional aboriginal person, the first thing that they will try to do is find a shared experience or common ground. Who do we know in common? Where have we both been? What have we both experienced? Tenuous links are fine, as long as they answer the big question: ‘how are we linked?’
Culturally, shared experiences are seen as vital to building rapport, not just within aboriginal culture, but cultures across the world too. Thousands of years of cultural development has led to one common outcome in cultures across the world – shared experiences always equal empathy, understanding and lay the groundwork for positive communication.
What does this mean for us when speaking in public, or delivering presentations?
Demonstrating that we have shared experience, that we are just like them, is key to building rapport with our audience and persuading them to believe our argument.
Next time you are struggling to find a way to build rapport or persuade your audience, simply look for a story to tell that shows exactly what it is that you both have in common – thousands of years of human cultural development can’t be wrong!