Giving an educational and entertaining presentation isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would do it and you’d have sat through far less depressing speeches. The reason most presentations are… how do we say … dull and uninspired, is because the presenter didn’t prepare nearly enough for the big day.
If you want to figuratively kick some butt during your next presentation, you’re going to have to train like a ninja. Here’s how:
Know Your Audience
Before you even begin to craft your presentation, you’ve got to know exactly WHO you’re crafting it for. The more you know about your audience, the more relevant you can make your message.
What are they hoping to learn from you? What are their problems? What do they fear the most? The goal of your presentation is NOT to share a bunch of data with your audience – it’s to HELP them in some way.
So, figure out what they need help with and craft your presentation around that. You can contact the people hosting the presentation to get some background information on attendees.
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Practice the Right Way
Most people practice their presentation the wrong way. They sit down and write their speech, then they memorize it word for word like they’re an actor in a play.
This is presentation death for two reasons:
1) A memorized speech comes across as, well, memorized. Presenters who do this can appear stiff and robotic instead of relaxed and just having a normal conversation.
2) When you memorize your speech, you spend the entire time worried you will forget something, or that you’ll skip ahead or say things out of sequence. This makes you far more anxious than you need be, and inevitably you forget words or skip ahead and say things out of sequence. Hello self-fulfilling prophecy.
A ninja doesn’t write and then memorize his/her speech, he/she develops some main talking points and simply practices talking out loud about those points. How you say it the first time may not be exactly how you say it the second time, and that’s fine – it’s great in fact. You’re simply trying to get comfortable with the flow of information you intend to share with your audience.
Note that I said “say it the first time.” A ninja doesn’t practice their presentation in their head, they say it out loud and preferably in front of a few people to get their reaction and feedback.
Get Their Attention Immediately
You’ve spent time developing a presentation tailored to your specific audience and practicing it out loud, and now you definitely want your listeners to give you their full attention. How do you do this? A few different ways:
- Tell them your main talking points up front – Remember, you’ve crafted these points with THEM in mind. When they hear at the very top of your presentation that you are going to help them with a particular problem or to achieve a specific goal, they are going to listen!
- Start with something unique or interesting – You can generally hook someone’s attention by telling a story. Human beings are hardwired to listen to stories. You can also try opening with a joke (be sure to practice it out on others first!) or a really cool fact that no one knows. For instance, “If you started with $0.01 and doubled your money every day, it would take 27 days to become a millionaire.” I’d pay attention to what that person had to say!
Get Your Body Moving
You rarely see a ninja stand still, but you see plenty of bad presenters stand still. Stillness can equal death in both cases, one literally and one figuratively. Great presenters move around the stage and use gestures. Not only will you seem more confident moving around, commanding your space, but moving forces your audiences to really pay attention to you.
You have a much greater chance of naturally moving around stage if you move your body before taking the stage. Don’t sit there waiting for your turn – do some jumping jacks or squats or pushups. March in place, anything to get your energy up and your limbs loose.
Public speaking is not easy. Some people seem to be born with a certain knack for it while others have to practice, practice and practice some more. And that’s okay, as long as you practice like a ninja.