Pet peeves. Those mundane (yet infuriating) habits that get under your skin and drive you crazy! We all have them. Perhaps your pet peeve is drivers who don’t use turn signals. No? How about someone cracking their knuckles…or noisy eaters? Admit it, you’ve got at least one.
As this year comes to a close, I’d like to share three of my pet peeves — presentation peeves, of course! Each is remarkably easy to fix and each an ideal resolution for sharpening your skills in the coming year – transforming a presentation peeve into presentation presence.
#1. Avoid the weak “thank you” opener.
Picture a speaker being introduced. She walks on stage, shakes hands with the emcee, turns and faces the audience, and the first words she utters are, “Thank you, John, for that gracious introduction.”
There’s no need to express thanks to the audience before you begin. They want — and deserve — a much stronger opening, one that grabs their attention and sets the expectation that you are a speaker worth listening to.
Offer sincere thanks to the emcee when you shake hands, and you’re ready to start off on a powerful note.
#2. Button up.
Men, want to know the secret to looking trim, confident and well dressed? Simple: button your jacket! Whether you’re wearing a suit and tie or a sport coat with a collared shirt, button up before you hit the stage. Though no one may criticize your open jacket, buttoning up enhances your credibility and presence. Just look at Jay Leno, David Letterman or Tom Bergeron — they are all buttoned up.
Because women’s fashions vary so widely, buttoning up is optional for female speakers. It really depends on the cut of your jacket and the image it will project. Some fashion-forward blazers or suit jackets were not designed to be worn buttoned up, but if you’re wearing a traditionally cut pantsuit or skirted suit, you will look more polished if you do.
Hint for both genders: Make sure your jacket fits properly when buttoned. If you can’t button it, don’t buy it or eliminate it from your on-stage wardrobe. The Susan Bixler and Nancy Nix-Rice, book The New Professional Image is a good resource for questions about appearance in the workplace. Although published in 1997, it is still relevant today.
#3. Wait till you see the white of their eyes.
Here’s a real pet peeve of mine. Have you ever noticed a presenter approach the front of the room and begin speaking before they even turn to face the audience? This seems to have become the norm rather than the exception.
Want to set yourself apart from the crowd? Whether a conference room, board room or main stage, turn and face your audience, greet them with a smile, and take a moment to breathe before saying a word. In Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln, author James Humes refers to this as a power pause. Your power pause will establish your presence and give you the confidence of a leader.
There you have them…three ridiculously easy ways to increase your confidence and enhance your presentation presence. High-stakes speaking success doesn’t get any easier than that.