How many times have you heard fellow audience members complain “ugh, that speaker was boring”?
We’ve all sat there listening to yet another dry presentation, with yet another powerpoint presentation. You know the one – it has a nice neat title, four or five nice neat bullet points down the side, a company logo and – if the speaker’s feeling really crazy – a clipart in the bottom right hand corner, ‘just to add some fun.’
The trouble is that when the brain has seen a format so many times, it switches off. And your message is lost. So how do you change from being a boring speaker to an inspiring orator?
The RULE of Freshness!
R – Relevant Somewhere along the line, we were told to “start with a joke.” This is like saying “Start with something to distract the audience, then you can get into the really boring bit.” Any tool that you use should link clearly to your message and should enhance and emphasise it , rather than pull away from it.
U – Unique The unusual or unexpected often has the effect of tricking the brain out of its stereotypes and leads to the creation of new neural pathways. This means your message will be remembered for a longer period of time.
L – Learning The best nuggets progress the audience’s understanding of your topic. Give your audience insight and they’ll see you as an expert in your field. Repeating or reiterating key learning points reinforces this.
E – Engaging A truly memorable presentation excites or stimulates a part of the audience’s mind – whether it’s their imagination, their motivation, or their logical mind. Seek to create “ooh” and “ahah!” moments with what you say, show and do.
Awarenessis the conscious space for choice.
With awareness you begin to distance yourself from what you’re doing, so you can start to choose which bits of your performance function well and which don’t. From there you can begin to change, to give the audience greater openness to your message. If you’re aware, you are:
– Conscious of what you’re saying and how you’re saying it, as you’re saying it.
– In control of your body and speech, so that it doesn’t detract from what you’re saying.
– Able to use your body and speech to enhance your public speaking message.
It’s all about EMPATHY!
- Identifying what your audience wants and needs.
- Realizing that your audience has needs that they don’t even comprehend.
- Learning what your audience wants from your topic and what they want from you.
- If you speak in a way that is honest, public speaking can make you the ‘people’s champion’ in your organisation. Connect with your personal stories, share who you are and you’ll be amazed at how your audience will connect with you.
- Read more about empathy: Part 1, Part 2, AND Part 3. (yes… it’s THAT important.)
Jump start your creativity!
We understand very little about how we acquire creativity. Cognitive scientist Paul Thagard has created a list of habits that highly creative people employ, based on the habits of successful scientists. To get creative he advises:
- Make new connections: Don’t use the same old material to create your talk. Look for inner inspiration from a different field and use analogies/comparisons to link things together.
- Don’t be afraid to fail: If you’re always afraid of being wrong, you will severely inhibit your ability to try! Failure is a sign that you’re trying something new and pushing boundaries. We have to learn to fail WELL.
- Persistence: Give it a chance would ya? Give your new style a chance to be successful, even if it feels strange. (and in the beginning it WILL)
- Get excited!: Enthusiasm wins the day. Try looking at your topic through the eyes of a small child. What do you like about it? What thrills will your talk reveal?
- Be sociable: Creativity comes quickly when you’re surrounded by new influences, so look to other people for fresh ideas.
- Use what’s around you: There is inspiration everywhere, if you’re just open to it. Seek metaphors, analogies, stories, and humour from the world at large. Bring the richness of your experience into your public speaking.
It’s all about that “I”Intonation and Inflection
The difference between a gifted storyteller and a monotonous robot is all about the letter “I”: Intonation; the rise and fall of the tone of voice, and Inflection; the emphasis you place on words. Audiences thrive on messages that sound interesting, so put your full belief behind whatever you’re saying.
Great intonation is one sure way of bringing a sense of entertainment and energy into your speaking. Does your voice have energy? Do you sound angry, tired or bored? Remember, as with other forms of non-verbal communications, your voice has to match the words that you say.
Inflection allows you to emphasize key words and emotions and helps convey your exact meaning to the audience. For example, try speaking the sentence, “I am so glad to be here” with a variety of different meanings just by changing your voice inflection.
We can spend all the time in the world worrying about speaking; Am I wearing the right clothing? Do I have all my stuff here? What will the audience think of me? Endless questions might worry you about your presentation but what you really need to be focused on is just spending a few moments getting back to yourself. Remember to tame your inner critic You can change your internal dialogue away from worrying about the negative, towards supporting your confidence. Again, boosting your confidence will help you to impress… and most of all help you realize that you’re NOT a boring speaker.