Archive for category Presentations
With the elections coming up, there’s a lot of focus on the speaking styles of the presidential candidates. Earlier in the year, I analyzed the President’s State of the Union Speech from a presentation perspective.
(Need a reminder? Check out the speech on YouTube.)
No matter your political persuasion, the State of the Union address was a study in great public speaking. Not only did the president have a commanding presence. He captivated as he delivered his vision for America with a sense of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement. In fact, when asked to rate his speech, I gave it a 90 out of 100
Below, I’ve listed some attributes of his State of the Union speech, from which we can all learn. But what about that remaining 10 points out of a perfect score of 100? Not even the president is perfect, so I’ve also listed a couple of cons. See below for my pro and con observations.
President Obama acknowledged all sides of the room, alternately facing center and then to one or the other side of the room.
His voice was expressive, as he used a palette of tone, color, dynamics (loud and soft), and rhythm in his delivery.
He paused after sentences so the audience could digest what he had to say.
He conveyed a sense of urgency, not only in his remarks, but in his voice, and stressed important words.
He sounded confident, decisive and authoritative.
The Speech itself
The president used easy-to-understand language that resonates with most people.
He backed up and illustrated his points with specific examples and anecdotal examples of real people benefitting from government programs.
Obama used catchy phrases, such as “We need to turn government from an unemployment system to re-employment system.
- The speech employed active verbs, talking about specific actions the president is taking
- The presentation itself was well crafted, and segued smoothly from one subject to the next
- Too long
- Dwelt too long in a couple of places
- Slightly repetitive
Many of us are faced with the same situation. You have to give a speech or presentation on a subject that is inherently dull. How can you add interest and excitement?
Here are five ways to spruce up a dull presentation:
- Change the pitch and dynamics of your voice to add variety to your sound. Speak higher and lower, louder and softer.
- Vary your rhythm. Decide when to slow down or speed up.
- Add emphasis and strategic pauses. For suspense or questions, pauses work well.
- Use anecdotes. Explain your points with a personalized story.
- Involve the audience. Ask rhetorical questions.
These hints are sure to add variety and punch to your presentation.
Do you have any thoughts to share?
I recently attended a master class for young opera singers with famed singer Martina Arroyo, at Hunter College in New York City. Ms. Arroyo constantly stressed the importance of knowing who the character is, the motive behind actions, where the action takes place, and more. She also focused on the importance of being prepared and immersed in the moment before you get up on stage.
What does this have to do with public speaking? Just like a good performer, a public speaker needs to have stage presence. Know the context of your presentation. Think about your words, what you want to convey, and how you want to move your audience. Have a sense of yourself, who you are and why you’re up on that stage, whether it’s an interview, a panel or PowerPoint presentation, or a speech to a large or small audience.
Our “Techniques for Effective Public Speaking” can help you translate the qualities of a great performer into a great presentation of your own. For more information contact us or visit www.publicspeaking4u.com.
Commentators and TV hosts with good voices and delivery: Among women, Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Leslie Stahl, Cynthia McFadden, Rachel Maddow, Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks, Sue Simmons in New York. Men: Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Larry King.
What do they have in common? Soothing, pleasant voices, a sense of authority, and good delivery. They pronounce well, exude an air of relaxed confidence, credibility and experience. Their voices are pitched at a level that is easy to listen to, they make their listeners feel comfortable, and their pace of delivery makes it easy for the audience to understand what they’re saying.
Contrast these examples of excellent delivery with the shrill and whiney broadcasters we hear on some of the Cable, sports and financial TV channels. High-pitched nasal voices with “rapid fire” deliveries who talk so fast they actually swallow their words, and make it hard for listeners to follow them. I won’t name the stations, but if you channel surf, you’ll easily spot them.
Tell us who you think is the best and worst broadcaster. Take our quick survey.
What should you know?
There is nothing more dull than a poor Power Point presentation. So, here are some hints on how to liven up your presentation.
First, ask yourself about the audience. Here are some questions I posed myself for a recent client presentation in front of an audience of about 100 people:
What do I know about the audience?
- Why is the audience there? This audience was participating in an annual meeting, so some members were more vested in what I had to report than others.
- What is your purpose? Mine was to demonstrate the value of my public relations program.
- Are you part of a larger program or the main attraction? My presentation was part of an overall meeting with other presenters preceding and following mine.
Given the above, I knew that I had to make my presentation engaging as well as informative.
- Grab audience attention by starting with a video clip of a news interview showing the client. The combination audio/visual speaks action.
- Build suspense. Rather than start at the beginning of the report , I used an excerpt and said, “We’ll tell you more about it later.” This creates a sense of anticipation
- Spice up the slides with visuals and colorful charts. There were a lot of statistics to report. To add interest, I used visuals and colorful charts.
- Minimize slide content. To keep the pace moving, I limited the text on each page.
At Kundell Communications we work with people to improve their presentation skills in individualized sessions or group classes. To learn more, visit www.publicspeaking4u.com