Presentation Matters

For fundraisers, whether the CEO of a non-profit or the preacher of a church of 100, the occasion arises when a public proclamation is required. Speaking to crowds, large and small, is part of the job description.

The two main requirements for any speech is a compelling vision and sincerity. No amount of polish or rhetorical expertise will overcome a poorly thought out plan or dubious intent. If you don’t have a story and you don’t really believe in what you are “selling,” don’t get up to speak.

But you can have an amazing vision and possess the sincerity of a saint and still miss the mark with a poor presentation. At the very least, you do not want to lose points because of of a distracting speaking style.

Here is one tip.

Have someone videotape your next presentation. Watch it. By yourself.

Now, let me tell you, this is going to hurt. It is humbling to watch yourself. It will sting. Your feelings will be hurt. You may never want to speak again in public. You get the picture? It is going to be bad.

As you watch the video take notes. Watch the video again with the sound off so you can focus only on gestures and your body. Watch it a third time just to prove you can endure pain.

Pout for two days. Engage in negative self talk. Go visit your counselor. Treat yourself to a chocolate shake. Eat supper at a buffet. Call your Mom for an encouraging word.

Then select one thing and shoot for improvement. You will see ten things that you need to fix, but just pick one. Focus on that one area of your presentation next time. Really work at it. Practice. Rehearse in front of a mirror. Strive to make corrections.

I did this today in a presentation. The speech coach at the seminar last week had talked about making eye contact—literally picking faces out of the crowd and speaking directly to them. Then pick another set of eyes and speak to that person. It sounded simple. Just look people in the eye. So I tried it.

I bombed. Really. I got so flustered I lost my place in the speech and gave up on the eye contact. The negative thoughts were only in my head, but honestly, I was kind of embarrassed. But I am going to try again next week.

Some people are simply amazing public presenters. We wonder how they do it, while knowing we could never be that good.

But the good news is, everybody can improve their speaking abilities.

Just pick one thing.