Speech is power.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Those words could not be any truer: with speech, a person has the power to stir the emotions of the listener and motivate them to act. Whether delivering prepared or impromptu speeches, if we pay attention to the way we communicate, then what we say can have a lasting effect on the listener – long after our speech has even been heard.
Recently, I spoke at a Soft Skill Workshop (co-hosted with the Chinese Institute of Engineers-SF at the Northeastern University) for non-native engineers to help them learn how to do just that. Essentially, I gave a presentation about how to give a compelling presentation. In preparation for my workshop, even though I am a native English speaker, I decided to work with one of Lingo Live’s public speaking experts, Steven Serrano, to brush up on my presentation skills and develop a workshop that was truly impactful for today’s engineers.
Even though I’m a Lingo Live coach myself, have over 10 years of experience teaching ESL, performing in front of large crowds, and developing Improv for Business Workshops, meeting with a fellow Lingo Live coach helped me rediscover just how important presentation skills are for any proficiency level and at any career stage. With Steven’s help, I re-learned and practiced the skills that would help me inspire my audience. And now I’m going to pass that knowledge on to you: through a blog post about a presentation on presentations:
Use modulation and enthusiasm
Change the pacing and excitement level of your voice to match what you’re speaking about.
Remember: if you don’t sounds interested in your subject, the audience won’t be interested either.
Build an outline/framework
Create a basic outline with an objective (for yourself) and short bullet points for each body topic.
The bullets should be short so you can speak more organically and connect with the audience.
Support with gestures and body language
Keep the presentation feeling relaxed by speaking as you would in a one-on-one conversation. You don’t want to seem robotic.
Make sure that the gestures support what you’re saying.
Add emphasis with questions and repetition
Keep the audience actively listening by asking questions (either rhetorical or non-rhetorical).
Use repetition to emphasize an important point.
Create a solid introduction and conclusion
Within your outline should be a well-written introduction and conclusion.
Since these are the most remembered parts of your presentation, you should memorize them or read them off of the paper to leave the audience feeling inspired.
It seems simple, right? I know. But trust me, putting all of these elements into practice makes a big difference. I was always able to recognize a good presentation, but now I know why it’s good. Knowing why something works empowers us to create something just as good. And now you can, too.
-Tracey Gordon, HR and Office Manager at Lingo Live
Interested in reading more about developing your soft skills?
Check out Advocating for Your Ideas and Improving Small Talk.