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11 April 2016

Present with confidence: 5 traits of a great presenter

Business & IP Centre hosted event, with attendees learning new skills at the British Library

Knowing how to present well should be something that all business owners, coaches, consultants, entrepreneurs and speakers learn how to do well. At some point in your business career, you will be asked to speak to share your knowledge, expertise and story.

When you present at the front of the room, you become the go to person in your industry and clients come to you, respect comes to you and money flows your way. So it’s best to learn how to do it well.

Here is a list of five traits that I believe would help anyone become a great presenter/speaker.

1. Know your audience

The first thing is that great presenters have spent time getting to know their audience, so that they can produce the best speech possible, that will leave them feeling touched, moved and inspired.

Some of the things you need to know:

  • How many people will attend?
  • The audience’s age and demographics
  • Do they have expertise in the subject matter you are to speak on?
  • Are they there voluntarily or it is compulsory?
  • What are their expectations are at the end of your talk
  • Are you the first speaker or the last speaker?
  • What other speakers have spoken previously and what did they like and dislike about them?

All of these questions and more will help to shape your speech so that it has the desired impact.

2. Be authentic

Being authentic just means being yourself, flaws and all. People respond much better when you are being natural and they are very in tune when you aren’t being yourself. It is the conscious and unconscious senses we have that picks up on it. The audience is actually a reflection of yourself. If you are nervous, they will feel those nerves and become anxious for you. If you are relaxed and calm, they will be too. If you are excited, fun and exhilarated, yep you guessed it, so will they be. If you mess up, trust me the majority of the audience will be willing you to get back on track. If you can laugh at yourself, you give the audience permission to laugh at you as well. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

The point of being authentic is to be real. If you are nervous, then just let them know that. If you are anxious, share it with them. They will relate to it, as they too have all been anxious at one time or another. Being authentic creates a magical bond. Trust yourself to be just that and watch the magic happen.

3. Make them laugh or cry

Two of the greatest ways to create a bond is either through using humour or the heart. A great speaker knows how to have fun on stage and therefore the audience can have fun also. As you create a great atmosphere, the audience will be swept along with you. “Smile and the world smiles with you”, that saying is true. Connect with your audience and take them on an emotional journey of sadness, joy, conflict, jubilation and victory.

4. Become a great storyteller

All audiences whether academic, creative or technical enjoy hearing stories. This is why we read fiction books, watch soap operas or go to the movies. Stories have been passed on from generation to generation, family to family. We remember them for years to come. So weave stories throughout your presentation or use one main story that has many lessons along the journey and your audience will remember you for years to come.

5. Connect and create an experience

Great presenters know how to connect with an audience. They make you feel as if they are speaking directly to you. It is delivered in the form of a great conversation you would have with someone. They give you eye contact, so that you feel as if you are the only person in the room. They create that unquestionable energy in the room and an unforgettable experience. They understand that one of the most powerful words to use in any presentation is YOU. You the audience, you the listener, you the extension of them.

Make sure your presentation is packed full of rhetorical questions, stories and analogies that have the audience can relate to themselves and their lives. Because that is why they are there - to hear something that will make a difference to them.

Elaine Powell is a professional speaker, public speaking coach, storyteller, author and has trained 15,000 people and run over 500 workshops in the art of effective communication. CEO of SWC Training and Consultancy, a business that equips start ups, business owners and entrepreneurs with the confidence and skills necessary to become masterful in presentation skills, business pitching, storytelling and effective communication.