In an era of tough competition, presentations that persuade, educate, motivate and inspire give you a competitive edge. Good presentation skills are no longer simply nice to have; they can mean career life or death.
Imagine yourself in the front row of a ballroom at a convention. Sitting with you are sales professionals from all over the world. This was a software company’s challenging January sales meeting.
That company had recently bought a competitor, and 40 percent of the sales professionals had nothing to do with the decision.
The opening speaker, the company’s president, was challenged with getting everyone to know that they are working for the right company at the right time, that the company’s strategy is sound, and that working for them will prove beneficial toward their career. He is an engineer, a brilliant leader, and rather shy. He is not a bad speaker; for this meeting, however, he knows he needs to become the corporate Rock Star.
Here are the Rock Star Principles that our shy engineer used and that you can also use to become a Rock Star communicator in the business world.
Rock Star Principle 1: R = Rehearse
Great performers and rock stars value rehearsal.
When your message is internalized, you know your structure, could wake up in the middle of the night and deliver your opening and closing, and have informally told your stories, get serious about rehearsal and delivery.
When you walk on stage, stand still at front center while you deliver your opening remarks. When you move, do not wander aimlessly. It makes you look nervous.
Before an important presentation, schedule daily rehearsal. Rehearse in your own environment. Then rehearse on the stage where you will be speaking.
You need to know how many steps it takes to get to the center of the stage. Work with the production company and the audiovisual technicians. Their job is to make you look good. They can’t do their job as effectively if you do not take your sound checks and rehearsals seriously. If possible, do this the day before.
Rock Star Principle 2: O = Opening
The first 30 to 60 seconds of your speech set the tone. They help build anticipation.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. What a pleasure to be here.” Sounds polite, but it is predictable, boring and will not inspire action or commitment. It is not Rock Star quality. Rock Star performers will tell you, “We open with our second-best song and close with our best.” These performers may have conversation with the audience to thank them for attending or for years of support but not at the opening.You may be thinking, “I have 45 minutes for my speech. That’s plenty of time to warm up and connect.” Wrong. Your audience is full of stimulation junkies with short attention spans. Come out punching, and grab the audience’s attention. Make them think, “Wow! This is going to be good!”
An audience will forgive you for anything except being boring. Predictability is boring.
Start with a story, dramatic statement, question or an inspiring thought. The software president walked out and said, “Welcome to a brand-new company!” He then described what had happened that made this the best move ever.
Rock Star Principle 3: C = Core Message
Each rock tour has a theme.
Know your central theme and core message. Your opening remarks must logically transition into the main message. The body will prove your central idea.
Rock Star communicators also realize that in order to inspire action, you need to appeal to the audience’s rational self-interest. People make decisions for their reasons, not yours.”
After his opening line, the executive answered the audience’s unspoken questions: why was the decision made, what would it mean to them and why was he the best leader?
The person behind the position is the person they would fight for, work long hours for and whose corporate strategy gives them confidence. We respect the position; we get emotionally connected to the person.
It is not only what you say that communicates your message. It is also the subtext, what you aren’t saying outright.
Rock Star communicators also realize that in order to inspire action, you need to appeal to the audience’s rational self-interest. People make decisions for their reasons, not yours. They need to understand what is in it for them.
Rock Star Principle 4: K = Kick-A$$ Closing
Remember, rock stars always close on their best song. Review your key ideas, and you have many options to close on a high.
Close your presentation with the same words, thought or vision from your opening. Remember, your last words linger. Leave them with a reinforcement of a key idea or an inspirational thought from your presentation. Consider the technique that the software president used.
If you are going to be a Rock Star presenter who inspires action and commitment, do not compete with yourself! Your audience can’t listen and read. A boring PowerPoint with too many words or too much information can sabotage a great presentation. Did your audience come to read or to hear you?
Good luck with your journey to inspire action and commitment as a Rock Star communicator.
Even though you were not sitting in the front row of a ballroom at a convention, you now have powerhouse suggestions for becoming a Rock Star communicator yourself.