Zombies are frightening creatures of nightmares, books, movies and television shows. While they aren’t dead, they should be. They’re relentless and oblivious to pain, and they continue to attack even after losing body parts. Try as we may, it’s almost impossible to kill them — the zombies, that is.
How many times have you witnessed knowledgeable, credible and even likeable people transform into mindless, boring, zombie-like creatures when they step up to speak? You know who I am talking about – those un-dead ghouls that lumber to the stage and bore their audience to death.
What can you do to avoid being that zombie-like speaker? Practice these tips and avoid the catastrophic apocalypse:
Meet & Greet. Don’t wait until you walk to the front of the room to talk to your listeners. Before your presentation, mingle and greet the people who will be in your audience. Even if they are long-time colleagues, taking those few moments for informal conversation allows you to connect and avoid that unblinking “zombie gaze” that will repel listeners when you step up to speak.
Keep it Fresh. Even if it is a re-occurring presentation, like the monthly financial read-out, instead of sharing dull data, reveal to your listeners something they have never heard. Share the information in a way that is different and provides refreshingly new context. Tell a story, share a little known fact or create an interesting metaphor. If you make your presentation a revelation, you can change how people think or respond to events and inspire action. To avoid the zombie stench of same-old, same-old, answer this question: “What is something new and different that I can reveal to my audience?
If you know your topic, the words will come alive. After investing the time and energy to clarify and organize your message, it can be tempting to want to be precise in what you say; wanting to use the exact words or phrases you agonized over when crafting your message. To an audience, that is not much different than a herd of unwieldy zombies on the attack.
In a recent in Harvard Business Review article, 5 Tips for Off-the-Cuff Speaking, author John Coleman suggests focusing on memorizing key stories and statistics, NOT the entire presentation. He explains, “If you spend your time on how to say something perfectly, you’ll stumble through those phrasings, and you’ll forget all the details that can make them come alive. Or worse, you’ll slavishly read from a PowerPoint or document rather than hitting the high points fluidly with your audience. “
Use Your Silver Bullet. Preparation is the silver bullet that is sure to boost confidence when you step up to speak. While it looks good on paper, how does your presentation sound out loud? To avoid a life-less presentation, practice out loud a minimum of five times before you deliver it. The first three times, you may find yourself editing and honing your content, determining what works and what doesn’t. Once you’ve got your message in shape, then focus on delivery.
Don’t be the zombie that kills the energy and attention in the room. Tell us what you do to prepare!
To learn more about how working with Professionally Speaking can help you prepare for and respond to presentation emergencies of all kinds, visit: https://professionallyspeaking.net