Don’t Lie to Yourself, Give a Great Presentation!
Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar. You’ve just been asked to speak in front of an audience about a particular subject. You’ve agreed, and the date has been set. But as you begin to prepare for the big day, self-doubt begins to set in. Suddenly, you can’t get out of your own head.
My topic is boring.
I’m not a good storyteller.
My voice isn’t very interesting.
I don’t have enough time to prepare.
Should I memorize my speech, or just wing it?
We’ve all been there. The question is, how do you overcome those doubts and deliver a killer speech?
The answer is simple: Stop lying to yourself! Chances are that you’ve convinced yourself to believe in one or more of the following lies.
Lie #1: My Topic is Boring
There’s an old adage in the news business that goes like this: There are no bad stories, only bad reporters. The same thing can be said about public speaking! No matter what the subject might be that you’ve been asked to talk about, remember that it’s not your job to talk about the topic, but rather to show the audience how the topic can help them achieve their goals and solve their problems.
Here’s an example. Several years ago, I was asked to address a group of about 500 franchise owners and operators of a print & ship business. The topic I was asked to speak on was GoSmallBiz.com itself. Instead of focusing my message on business consulting and the software services included in our product, I shared stories about how a print & ship business used our services to make better decisions, avoid the pitfalls of others in the industry, operate their business more efficiently, and market their business more successfully. The bottom line is that people will always be interested in solutions to their problems, no matter what the topic is.
Lie #2: I Don’t Have an Engaging Personality, So My Speech Won’t Be Engaging
It’s true, I don’t personally know everyone reading this. And it very well could be that some have less-than-inspiring personalities. But that’s ok! Even people with a dull personality can deliver an engaging speech. Speaking isn’t about putting a spotlight on your personality. It’s about helping your audience. If you’re focused on doing that, the substance of your presentation will overshadow your personality.
Lie #3: I Don’t Have Enough Time to Create a Presentation
Here’s a simple trick: When you’re asked to make a presentation on short notice, just jot down the questions that your audience will most likely ask you. From that list, choose three questions, and then answer them with a story that brings them to life.
I know from experience that this method works. On the first morning of a partner company’s annual conference, I was surprised to see my name on the speaking agenda for later that day. No one had told me! But as they say, the show must go on. I had less than 4 hours to prepare a 15-minute presentation. Since I was there as a representative of GoSmallBiz.com, I wrote down some questions we often receive from people who are looking to purchase our service. Within 30 minutes, I had my three questions on a single PowerPoint slide, giving me about 3 hours to prepare for what I was going to say. When it came time to present, I took 5 minutes to tell a story that corresponded with and answered each of those three questions. For example, one of the three questions was, “Why should I pay for your business advice when I have Google?” I told a simple but compelling story about why business decisions should never be made solely based on Google search results. It was a simple but effective way to lead people back to our service without ever boring them about the features and benefits of the service—and it can work as a tactic for your presentations, too.
Lie #4: If I Practice Too Much, My Presentation Will Sound Too Rehearsed
Reciting a speech from memory can make you appear robotic and uninspiring, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice what you’re going to talk about. Rather than writing out your speech word for word, create a simple outline of the key messages you want to deliver, along with one or two bullet points under each message. The best approach to nailing your speech is still to practice, practice, and then practice some more.
So remember, delivering a great presentation is all about connection, not perfection. Stop lying to yourself and go nail that speech!