How many conferences and events have you been to where you have been preached at by someone in a pinstripe suit, drowning you with countless volumes of PowerPoint slides? Most people that stand up at a conference are brilliant at what they do â€“ they are truly experts in their field and have more knowledge than they could be possibly share with you the audience in half a lifetime, let alone their current allocated time slot. Many (not all) of these speakers haven’t got a clue about engaging and connecting with you and as a result they are totally forgettable. When asked afterwards who you remember, the chances are the most you’ll remember will be the fact that they all wore pinstripes.
When I started speaking publically I was what I call a competent corporate presenter â€“ meaning I had a strong voice, spoke with authority and got my message across in an effective and ‘professional’ manner. I use the word ‘professional’ here in an ironic way, as I believed that I was presenting professionally because I looked and sounded the part â€“ I wore the corporate mask of professionalism. I had a serious tone to my voice, had plenty of facts to pass on and had a grown up expression on my face.
Therein lies the issue â€“ the Corporate Mask â€“ this is where professional people stand on stage and present as they have been conditioned to do so, having seen colleagues and peers get ‘through it’ by using â€œPinstripes @ PowerPointâ€.
By contrast the memorable presenters and speakers are having fun, they are enjoying themselves and are carrying the audience with them. Hiding behind vast reams of data, facts and statistics does not connect with the audience â€“ however telling stories that relate to the important messages, reinforce the message and potentially inject some levity into the room will make most speeches and speakers memorable.
You can use Google to get some top tips for using PowerPoint â€“ my strong advice is to avoid using PowerPoint at all. If there are any facts and figures then use a hand out afterwards to remind everyone of the key points mentioned. Nearly all presenters and speakers that use PowerPoint are guided by the slides, thereby making their speeches stilted and lacking in flow – without it they become more natural and expert in their delivery.
Also, why is it that when someone delivers wearing the â€œcorporate maskâ€ you rarely see them smile? Is it because smiling doesn’t look professional and serious? Yet without a smile on stage the presenters look grumpy and angry, as though they do not want to be there. Try using some simple anchoring techniques and positive associations in the mind to make you smile more. There are many tricks you can play on yourself whilst presenting that are not visible to the audience but will make you feel relaxed and smile â€“ I’ll let your imagination go wild now as these triggers need to be personal and have a positive effect on you.
Pinstripes & PowerPoint with a grumpy looking face will turn off the audience before you have even opened your mouth. Start with a smile, warm up before you go out, have loads of energy and speak from the heart not from the head, this will make you truly memorable for all the right reasons.