THE COM­MU­NI­CA­TOR Learn to speak like a child and tell story with pas­sion

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

AS Ire­land’s most beloved com­mu­ni­ca­tions colum­nist (well, why not? If I say it enough times, maybe we’ll all come to be­lieve it), I am de­lighted to share some top pre­sen­ta­tion tips I picked up from my dar­ling daugh­ter, Lulu. I’ll pack­age them as part of an­other seg­ment in my ‘Back To School’ se­ries for busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als.

As many par­ents dis­cover, our best teach­ers are not al­ways found at that con­fer­ence we paid top dol­lar (I mean, euro) for in Lon­don or Dublin or New York, but among us already — around knee or thigh level. They’re our chil­dren. Like my young daugh­ter.

Think about this: Nearly ev­ery child on the planet can tell a story in an en­thu­si­as­tic and an­i­mated way. So, at what point in our adult ca­reers do we ap­par­ently ac­cept that ev­ery busi­ness pre­sen­ta­tion should be dry and emo­tion­less? Take th­ese tips from Lulu and your pre­sen­ta­tions will be­come more per­sua­sive, me­morable and ef­fec­tive.

it sim­ple. Lulu has the vo­cab­u­lary of, well, a child. And while I’m not ad­vo­cat­ing you break your words down to the ground, it’s im­por­tant to con­sider ev­ery au­di­ence a lay au­di­ence. Stay away from tech­ni­cal jar­gon or shop-talk. Just be­cause your depart­ment has been de­scrib­ing it as the ‘busi­ness devel­op­ment solutions ecosys­tem’ doesn’t mean ev­ery­one else has any idea what that means (and I did not make that ex­am­ple up).

some heart into it. No mat­ter what the topic, the child sto­ry­teller is al­ways pas­sion­ate. Are you pre­sent­ing record yearend prof­its? Get ex­cited! Are you urg­ing your team to meet in­creased sales goals? Be com­pas­sion­ate and en­cour­ag­ing. In­fus­ing your pre­sen­ta­tion with emo­tion is not about wear­ing your heart on your sleeve, it is about connecting with your au­di­ence. Re­mem­ber, the first rule of hu­man be­hav­iour is that peo­ple make de­ci­sions emo­tion­ally.

Along with her vo­cal in­ten­sity, Lulu in­stinc­tively uses her body. Her arms stretch out wide when she ex­claims: “That dog was HUGE.” Take your hands off the podium or lectern and add some em­pha­sis. Not wild hand-wav­ing, but con­sider adding broad de­lib­er­ate ges­tures, var­ied pos­tures and move­ment, en­hanced fa­cial ex­pres­sions and other forms of non-ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion to punch up your pre­sen­ta­tions.

a story. Din­ner time is never dull when Lulu tells us a story. You may find this counter-in­tu­itive but, when in doubt, cut some in­for­ma­tion from your pre­sen­ta­tion and tell a heart-felt story in­stead. Make it per­sonal. Make it tie into your mes­sage. But do tell a story. Your au­di­ence will thank you and most im­por­tantly of all, they will bet­ter re­mem­ber what you have to say.

Now, you already may be think­ing this, so let me jump ahead and ac­knowl­edge that not ev­ery­thing my daugh­ter does makes for good pre­sen­ta­tion learn­ing tools. In fact, here are four things Lulu does that you should NOT in­cor­po­rate into your next busi­ness pre­sen­ta­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, I’ve seen plenty of pro­fes­sion­als make th­ese mis­takes. So, let’s grow up and punch up our next pre­sen­ta­tions by remembering to avoid th­ese child­ish be­hav­iours.

ram­ble. Lulu’s sto­ries of­ten give you an en­chant­ing ex­plo­ration of her ac­tive lit­tle mind. She veers off-track and wan­ders down a tan­gen­tial rab­bit hole with aban­don. Your pre­sen­ta­tion, how­ever, bet­ter stay fo­cused. While I never ad­vo­cate sim­ply read­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion, pure ad-lib is even more dan­ger­ous. Disor­gan­ised flow is a telling sign of lack of prepa­ra­tion and makes it dif­fi­cult for your au­di­ence to fol­low and re­tain mes­sages.

throw a tantrum. We’ve all seen it. Some­thing goes wrong and sud­denly the young­ster is on the floor kick­ing and scream­ing. Well, things can go wrong in a pre­sen­ta­tion too. Some­body for­got to load the most re­cent slide deck, the clicker goes missing or the mi­cro­phone doesn’t work. What­ever the prob­lem, keep your cool. Get to your pre­sen­ta­tion room early to give you plenty of time to set up. And al­ways pre­pare a back-up, just in case. Maybe you’re not about to hit the floor like a tod­dler, but hit­ting the roof, or even ap­pear­ing frus­trated is not al­lowed ei­ther.

think it’s all about you. Au­di­ence point of view is not some­thing Lulu likely con­sid­ers when she tells a story. She’s sim­ply in the mo­ment. But strate­giz­ing about your au­di­ence is es­sen­tial to cre­at­ing an ef­fec­tive busi­ness pre­sen­ta­tion. Who are they? What are they ex­pect­ing? What would they like to hear? What are they afraid of? What’s in it for them? Even though you may be the one up on stage, re­mem­ber, it’s re­ally all about them.

for­get to pause. Lulu doesn’t al­ways think be­fore she speaks. This morn­ing, while I was on the phone, she barged into the room yelling for some­thing. I told her: “Lulu, honey, don’t in­ter­rupt when I’m talk­ing, it’s rude.” “Well, you’re rude!” she im­me­di­ately fired back. We need to learn how to han­dle an un­ex­pected, ag­gres­sive ques­tion or bit of feed­back from our au­di­ence. Don’t take it per­son­ally and don’t fire back. Stop for a mo­ment and try to con­sider the other per­son’s point of view. Ask a ques­tion or two to get clar­i­fi­ca­tion. Seek com­mon ground.

Our chil­dren aren’t the only ones who can go learn a thing or two this term — we can too.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.