When recently coaching business leaders, as they prepared for various presentations, I kept hearing the same question again and again. No matter what we were working on, or whether it was an individual or team consultation, at some point someone invariably asked, “I can do WHAT?”
You can fill in the blank as to the “WHAT,” but I’m reminded how hard-and-fast some speakers view the perceived “rules” of public speaking… and how surprised they are to hear how much leeway presenters actually have. That surprise is usually followed by an intense feeling of relief. That’s why I want to share the top three shockers with you today. So, yes, you can:
Truth be told, I only speak using notes, and sometimes even a script. If you’re confident in your message, believe it has value, and are prepared enough, the index cards, note sheets, or teleprompter are there simply to support you, not to upstage you.
The trick is to always keep the connection with the audience, not with your notes.
Use a “plant.”
Need a bit of reassurance? It’s perfectly OK to ask a friend or colleague in the audience to nod when you make eye contact to remind you how well you’re doing. A little validation goes a long way to making a good presentation even better.
Similarly, to ensure a lively exchange or Q&A session, you can “plant” a participant to kick things off. To maintain a sense of integrity, be sure to pick someone who is truly interested in the topic, and who participants would expect to be in the audience.
A physician client once confessed that he believed giving a presentation required him to “perform” – to act or play a role while on stage. This unnecessary facade kept his listeners from connecting with him and his message.
There’s no need to do that – just be you and speak with a conversational tone.
Now that you have permission to do the unthinkable, I guarantee your next presentation will be more authentic, more engaging and most of all, more effective.