Presentations, Public Speaking, and Talking Frogs Whenever I am speaking to a group about making presentations, I like to tell a favorite joke. The one that I use most often goes like this. Two women were walking down a country road one day when they happened to come across a frog. The frog looked up at them and spoke. "Kiss me and I will turn into a rich and handsome prince." The first woman bent over, picked up the frog, and put it carefully into her purse, and continued down the road to home, where she put it into a box. Each day for the next week, the woman would take the frog out of box, place it on the table and wait until it spoke. "Kiss me and I will turn into a rich and handsome prince." She would then place it back into the box until the next day. At the end of the week, her friend could not wait any longer. She asked, "Why don't you kiss the frog, and you will be rich and happy." The first woman replied, "You must be kidding. A talking frog is worth more than a rich and handsome prince any day!" Being able to speak well, to perform in front of people, and influence others, are keys to success in life. You are going to enjoy reading this article about being a better presenter. You are really going to want to use the things you learn. And I am going to help you each step of the way. I want you to repeat the following phrase three times, aloud. Don't be shy. Find a private place if you have to. Now, repeat three times, "I am a talented presenter. I am influential and compelling." Say it with feeling and really mean it. This is the beginning of your development. Beginnings The first and last thirty seconds of your presentation have the most impact, so give them extra thought, time, and effort. This is the time you must find a way to generate excitement, create anticipation, and discover your audiences' motivation. If you haven't hooked your audience's interest, their minds are going to wander off. Whatever you do, don't waste any of your precious seconds with "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here tonight." Instead, open with an intriguing or startling statement: "Half the people in this room are going to have an accident in the next year."; "As a young man, my father gave me this valuable advice..."; "Of all the questions I am most frequently asked, this is the one I hear most often..." Going to, happening, happened. As with writing, speaking requires that you fulfill three parts to be complete. You must tell people what is going to happen, tell them again what is happening as it happens, and remind them of what happened at the end. Begin by telling them what is going to happen. Everyone is anxious to know what the next few hours or minutes will be like, so tell them. For example, if you are giving a workshop on presentation skills try this: Â "You're going to love this article about being a good presenter. You are definitely going to want to use the ideas you hear. I am going to explain it all, one step at a time." Planting Body language is important in making presentations. Stand , walk or move about with appropriate hand gestures or facial expressions. When you are presenting in front of an audience, you are performing as much as actor is on stage. Present the desired image to your audience. Look pleasant, enthusiastic, confident, proud, but not arrogant. Act as if you are relaxed, even if you feel nervous. Plant yourself before you make a major point. When you are flitting around and moving side to side people are easily distracted. Before you make a an important statement that yo u want them to hear, stop, plant yourself, look at them, then speak. When you plant yourself, set your feet in place, take a strong and confident posture, wait a few seconds before continuing, then speak. Sound off, or not at all. Speak with conviction as if you really believe in what you are saying. Your audience knows very little about your topic so persuade your audience effectively. Most of us speak too fast, flick through our slides too quickly and don't pause long enough for our audience to absorb what we're saying. Speak slowly, loudly and clearly, confidently. Do not mumble. If you make an error, simply correct it and continue. No lengthy excuses or apologies. Speak to one person. When we speak to one person we use natural communication techniques - eye connection, pausing to allow comprehension, feeding off the listeners reactions. These natural "ways of being" are often lost when we speak to a group. But if you focus on one person at a time and speak to them as if they are the only person in the room, you'll come across as natural and confident. Don't be afraid of no sound. Silence, the lack of sound, is extremely important, and is usually not used well. Use it intentionally. Plan for moments when you leave your audience waiting. To you it may seem forever, but 5-10 seconds of silence can be like a punctuation mark. It emphasizes a point, and it get's your listener's attention. Delivery Take time to review what you have said. Most people need to hear things more than once and returning to recent points you made helps to make new material relevant and more easily remembered. Get feedback when you review, even if you have to ask people directly. You need to assess how your audience is receiving your presentation. If people seem reluctant to speak up let them know it is ok. Use Repetition. Use the rule of threes to emphasize a point and influence your audience's imagination. "People who improve their presentation skills have bigger and bigger and bigger opportunities than those who don't." "Continuing to improve your presentation skills now is going to bring you more and more and more success." Don't be shy about telling stories or relating your own learning experience. Storytelling is one of the most significant ways people learn new ideas and concepts. Hearing stories or your experiences might start your audience thinking. Add humor whenever appropriate and possible. Whatever you use, be sure you practice it until it is smooth. Once again I want you to repeat the following phrase three times, aloud. "I am a talented presenter. I am influential and compelling." Say it with feeling and really mean it. Going to, happening, happened You are really seeing that making good presentations is not as difficult as it seemed. This is a great article and you want to share this experience with others. Of course I am telling you what is happening and so should you when you present or speak. If your goal is for people to want to buy your idea, product, or service then tell them it is happening. Don't be shy. Call to Action I said the first 30 seconds have the most impact. They do have the most impact - in the first 30 seconds. When you are finishing, the last 30 seconds have the most impact. It is your time to create a lasting image, re-motivate the audience, and reveal the next step you want them to take. Summarize, set the final image, and provide closure. Avoid going out with a whimper, using stale, cliched phrases. Consider these approaches. "As you reflect on the ideas I have offered, you notice that making presentations is exciting, you see that it is possible for you, the benefits are many, and now you want to take advantage of what you have learned and find an opportunity to make a presentation." "The more you try to justify not speaking to groups, the more you realize you're selling yourself short." "I guess we've covered just about everything. The only question that remains is how soon you want to step on stage and share your ideas with others." Going to, happening, happened You really enjoyed reading this article. You can feel the excitement about entering a new phase of our life. I will be here to help you each step of the way. There is one final but important point. Know when to STOP talking. End your presentation with an interesting remark or an appropriate punch line. Leave your listeners with a positive impression and a sense of completion. Closing remarks should be brief and concise. Thank your audience and sit down. One final time - I am a talented presenter. I am influential and compelling Todd Wilmore has gained a reputation for helping people discover keys to being more effective and efficient. Over the years he has developed a reputation for incisiveness in identifying needs and solutions. He brings a wealth of effective ideas and techniques to situations, and helps people learn to apply them. He has a unique talent for leading people to develop their promise and potential. In addition to consulting with public agencies, private industry, and non-profits, he is a dynamic speaker. He has a unique ability to connect with and challenge his audience. His retreats and presentations always generate positive reactions.