How to be the best spokesperson for your firm

by IdeaTransfer on May 22, 2011

Once again the best way is the simple way when it comes to presentations.

Surveys have been quoted for decades that peg the anxiety associated with public speaking right behind the stress of a spouse’s death and the stress of a divorce.  That always seems out of proportion, but we have known many otherwise confident and secure individuals to come unglued before a presentation.  Even Johnny Carson was said to have severe stage fright—over 3000 times!

What speakers fear most is going totally blank.  And nothing breaks your concentration like the fear of not having any concentration.  But let’s skip the psychology and go right to the solution.  You don’t have to ever go blank if you follow these simple recommendations.

Don’t give a speech, give an interview.

If you could have a friendly moderator ask you questions instead of standing there alone in front of a few hundred faces, you wouldn’t feel quite so unnerved.  Being interviewed doesn’t require a lot of preparation.  You just have to answer honestly and stay within the question parameters, and you are likely to look pretty good up there.  So, why not make the audience feel like the interviewer and pose a series of questions to yourself as the interviewee?

Develop Q&A clusters.

Taking this concept to the next step, plan your interview around a list of questions that you can answer in your sleep—say, ten for a 30-minute presentation.  Pose the questions rhetorically, as if each one is exactly what the audience is wondering next.  Then give your answer in 2-3 minutes to go through the stories, facts, and analogies that make the answers memorable.  It is pretty easy to remember ten questions to which you know the answer.  Not much chance of going blank here.

Open with enthusiasm and end with a heartfelt conclusion.

These are the two elements that need to be finely honed and polished, because audiences expect presenters to be engaging people who are passionate about their subjects.  From a stage that takes a little acting and projecting to accomplish.  But it is really important, because they won’t remember the actual content of the presentation for very long, but they won’t forget the energy you put into it.

The beauty of this Q&A cluster technique is that you remain in control.  Even if the questions get out of order, the audience doesn’t know that.  And you can even leave some Q&As out and use them during the real question period afterwards.  You won’t need notes—maybe a list of the questions themselves, but the answers are already in your head.  You can get away without visual aids when you master this simple technique, because you will become the best visual aid.

So give up your script and your outline and your memorization.  Just be yourself.  Let the audience be itself.  And help them interview you.


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