How to influence others and be a potent speaker: part 2

In the second part of her article series, Amanda Gore outlines her five remaining steps on how to pull off a memorable presentation

Tell stories to deliver your messages

Tell stories to illustrate all your main points, or give people an experience around them. Create characters and act out skits on the stage to make a point or tell a story. Use symbols to help people remember—tie the symbol to the point.

Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People taught us to make a point, tell a story to illustrate the point and then share with the audience how that point relates to their lives. It keeps them engaged.

Internalize your message

I have heard so many young speakers talking about rehearsing their keynote in front of the mirror or other people. While this may be something useful to do a couple of times, it is not the best way to be a great speaker.

My mentor told me to ‘internalize’ my messages—to find a way to have the concept resonate within me. Then I could deliver it to others without notes and with heart.

Preparation does not equal rehearsal

Rehearsing in front of a mirror or others, crafting the perfectly worded presentation or attending a course on speaking does not constitute preparation for a specific event.

They are all part of learning new skillsets, abilities or processes but for every presentation I believe there are the following essential steps:

  • Consider the objectives for the meeting
  • Put yourself inside the minds of the people you will be addressing
  • Know your audience and how they think/feel
  • Know the culture of the organisation
  • Ask yourself what information would help them and how you can deliver it
  • Find stories and exercises that will illustrate your points
  • Make sure you know your content before you are on stage and then let go of it from the minute you walk on stage and focus on the group engagement and enjoyment

Room preparation

Consider the room layout if you have a choice. Where you can, have people sitting theatre style – it makes them connect much more. If you sit people at round tables, you split them into clumps or separate groups of eight or ten and the dynamics are very different.

Always have bright music playing fairly loudly as they walk in—if you play relaxing soothing music they will be in a daze before you start. The lighting is critical as well-—the brighter the lights the more they connect. Make sure you are well lit on the stage, it’s very difficult to watch and listen to someone who is in the dark.

Always start with an activity, icebreaker or question

I think the most boring way to start a presentation is to say ‘thank you’ or ‘I am excited to be here’ or ‘it’s great to be here’. Instead change the energy of the group from the minute you start by engaging them.

Ask them a question, or better still, 3 questions (the third one something that makes them laugh). Perhaps you can start by asking them to turn to the person next to them and introduce themselves or tell each other one thing they learned from the last presentation.

Last Reminders

  • Remember it is never about you
  • It is always about them and how they are responding to you
  • Be sincere in your desire to help them in some way
  • Make sure that you dress appropriately as people will judge your appearance in the first 30 seconds
  • Remember, above all, have respectful fun—even with serious subjects