The ability to formulate a thought or concept concisely, and then successfully convey it to others, is one of the most valuable and distinctive traits for any leader.
It allows them to elevate their idea or a goal into the public landscape, where it can then make an impact, ignite interest, and build momentum.
As a business leader, you want to work on your presentation skills to become a more confident and skilled communicator who can take command of the room and deeply engage the audience.
This piece will help you achieve this goal by running through the essentials of what you need to take into consideration to make effective and persuasive speeches.
Find a Unique Angle on the Topic
Your first step should be to pick your topics wisely. Make sure they are relevant to your industry and your audience, to avoid wasting their time with bland, beige droning that is “just filling up a time slot.”
Be passionate about the topic and speak with conviction, offering a unique angle and point of view you’ve gained through your own experience and research. Speak of what you know.
This will allow you to deliver more value to the listener.
Don’t be afraid to shift the perspective. That might just be what that particular communal conversation needs to get your audience more involved.
Refrain from copying other speakers who deal with the same subject. If you’re still trying to find your voice, you can flatter the speakers you admire by copying their delivery, but do your best to move past that stage as soon as possible.
If you are not uniquely genuine and comfortable with yourself or the points you’re making, the whole speech will seem forced, uncomfortable and unconvincing.
Focus on your truth and try to offer a new individual perspective on what you genuinely care about and see as valuable. Remember, boats won’t turn if they rock a little.
Mind Your Body Language and Voice
Effective communication goes beyond words. Sentence syntax and semantics matter, of course, but a lot of what we convey has nothing to do with the words we use, but with how we choose to deliver them.
The 7-38-55 rule states that only 7% of communication is verbal, 38% is the tone of voice, and 55% falls onto the body language.
Therefore, make sure your body language expresses the right attitude.
Don’t slouch and make yourself look smaller. That’s a fear response, a prey stance designed to protect your soft belly from attack.
Instead, stand up straight, with your shoulders back.
This will not only look more confident, but it will simultaneously make you feel more relaxed, increasing your ability to deliver. The body-brain loop works both ways, and you can trick it.
When you’re speaking publicly, you’re giving a holistic performance. Think of yourself as the MC of the event.
Don’t hide behind barrier objects, such as stands. Take the microphone, position yourself front and center, and look your listeners in the eye.
If speaking to a whole room is too overwhelming, focus on a few people and speak to them until you loosen up.
Additionally, speak clearly, minding proper volume, cadence, and register, and making sure you adjust them to the topic and the audience.
The future of your agenda depends on how well the message is presented, and therefore received.
Confident delivery will make you seem more persuasive.
Know Your Audience and Tailor the Delivery
When you’re addressing an audience, although you’re the only one speaking most of the time, in a way, it’s still a two-way conversation.
Therefore, make sure you zone in on your audience profile.
Go through the applicant data at hand to get an idea of what kind of approach would benefit your listeners. This should be your starting point in tailoring an audience-centric message.
Some factors you should take into consideration include:
- age and gender,
- cultural background,
- group affiliations,
- political and religious convictions,
- viewpoints on key overarching big issues (as much as they are relevant to the topic)
- education level and interests,
- degree of openness
All of these factors will affect the way you craft your message. After all, you’re building a relationship with your listeners, and your job is to find common ground with them.
People are much more inclined to listen if they feel comfortable around you and perceive you as relatable.
However, it’s easy to overwhelm the audience with information.
So, say things as concisely and straightforwardly as possible, and feel free to repeat key takeaways multiple times to make sure you are understood.
Make sure you know the venue size and if there will be time for Q&A. The number of people in attendance will affect the way you get your point across.
Establish rapport first and then introduce your point of view. The more out there your idea is, the better you need to get at audience analysis so that you can get through to them in a bonding experience.
When you want to convey a message, you have to map out the experience for yourself and your listeners.
A bad plan is better than no plan.
A good plan, however, means doing your best to dissect every aspect of an event to see where you can improve and minimize the risk of unwanted surprises.
Having a plan is essential regardless of the size of an event, and planning a speech has just as many moving parts as organizing any other event.
Nevertheless, even the most complex tasks get far easier once you break them down and devise a strategy.
Remember: the less you leave to chance, the better experience you can provide to your audience.
Success is a product of a sequence of carefully deliberated actions linked together and running so smoothly that it appears effortless.
There may be issues you cannot predict, from the environmental to the technical, but there are a myriad of things that are under your control, so make sure you cover your ground there.
A good plan and a reliable team to test its elements and see them through are priceless tools in delivering the final message to your audience.
Have a Clear Goal
Your message should always serve the end goal you want to achieve. It should be the core of what you’re doing. You want to deliver it and make it sink in.
You’re the first domino piece in the sender-message-channel receiver model of communication. Communication is complete at the moment when the receiver interprets the message, not when they receive it.
What is your goal? Do you want to inform, entertain, sell a product, present innovation, raise awareness, find investors, deliver a compelling story, or promote?
Keep that goal in sight throughout the whole process of the audience analysis, planning, and follow-through. After all, you can’t hit a target you don’t see, especially if it’s a moving and complex one.
To sum up, a successful speech is the result of having something to say and finding your own voice.
To get a message across effectively, you have to pay attention to all of the things your body is saying even without you knowing it.
Most importantly, you have to be aware of who you’re talking with and why, and plan your course of action detail. After all, fortune favors the prepared as much as the brave.
Those who can speak well have the power to transform and inform—which literally means to put in form or to shape. So, if you can speak well, you can shape your future.