After having spent a summer studying for and then attending an intensive Neuro-Linguistic Programming Certification Training, I am clearer now than ever about the importance of language and public speaking. As a communicator, words are the raw materials from which you construct a bridge between yourself and your audience. What you say and how you say it mean…quite literally…everything in terms of your effectiveness. Without immersing yourself in an NLP course, what words might you use to better communicate your message?
Here are two thoughts about how to do that:
(1) Know Your Audience! This cannot be overstated. Once you know your audience, you will begin to speak in their language. Every business, every workgroup, every social group, has words, acronyms, and phrases that they use. To the extent that you can learn and apply these will make you come across as “one of them” and consequently, give you more credibility. However, don’t just throw in a bunch of terms that you don’t understand and hope for the best. If you do, you are likely to come across as silly and inauthentic. However, you don’t have to be an expert in the arena to use words and phrases familiar with the audience. Once you have uncovered what some of those words and phrases are that resonate with your audience, your attempt to relate and incorporate them just might be enough. Consider when you travel overseas and you attempt the native language of the country you are visiting. You are often given a courtesy smile just for having tried. At least you made the effort to find the words and use them. You made an effort to connect and assimilate. Do the same when presenting. Find out about the company or group and attempt to use their language.
(2) Use Your Imagination. Imagination is a terrific tool for you as a speaker. When your audience is imaging themselves in a scenario, they are actively using their minds and creating more meaning from what you say. I recently watched a speaker do this effectively. He was talking about his role as a commercial real estate agent. He invited the audience to come along with him as he showed a property. Of course, we were all still sitting in our seats. Yet, when he guided us to imagine ourselves on the tour, it all became more real. The next time you speak, invite your audience in by inviting them to imagine themselves benefitting or participating in what you are sharing.
Your words can have great power. Think through what you say in addition to how you say it. Doing so will make you an even more effective communicator.
“Smile: It is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
Want to know the fastest and easiest way to connect with an audience? Answer: Smile. Yep, whether you’re in a 1-on-1 interaction or on stage in front of a large audience, a friendly smile will help you connect with your audience right away.
So, before you walk on stage, take a smiling selfie or pre-engage audience members with a warm smile as they enter the room. Give it a try. When you do, you’ll put yourself in a better frame of mind and start to engage your audience in the crucial first 90 seconds of your presentation.
Do you fidget with a ring, fuss with your hair, or fiddle with car keys in your pocket when you’re nervous and speaking in front of a group? These distracting, nervous habits can ruin an otherwise good business presentation. They chip away at your credibility and take away from the impact of your message.
So what should you do to avoid such distractions? Well, you could try to remember not to do these distracting things, but you’ve got enough on your mind. A better strategy is to simply remove as many distractions as possible so that you can focus on your content and delivery. If you fidget with your ring, remove it (but be sure to put it in a VERY safe place). If you fuss with your hair, tie it back. If you fiddle with your car keys, empty your pocket.
The more your audience can focus on your content and on your confident delivery, the more effective you will be as a public speaker or business presenter.
Data is an important part of business and business presentations. But numbers can make your audience disengage if you don’t present them in an understandable and relatable way.
Here are 3 ways to take the numb out of your numbers in public speaking:
1) Remove data that are not part of your main point. Sometimes an entire spreadsheet is put on a slide when only one data point is really important. If you have to put all the data on the slide, try putting the relevant data in a different color or put a circle around it.
2) Provide context. Explain to your audience why the data you’re presenting matters? How will it impact the business? How will it impact the future? Tell a short story to illustrates the point. Stories give life to data and make the point you are trying to make more memorable. Show some passion for the key points you are making about your data. If you’re not excited about your data, your audience won’t be either. Data combined with a story are a powerful 1-2 punch.
3) Make numbers comparable to something familiar. Show your audience what you’re talking about by comparing your data to something that the audience can easily relate to. Here’s one of my favorite comparisons that really makes the point: “If every dollar equals 1 second, then $1 million is about 11 hours. By comparison, $1 billion would be about 32 years.”
When you take the numb out of the numbers, you’ll have a more impactful business presentation that will turn heads, win hearts, and get results.