One of the most important functions of PR is articulating and protecting the identity of the brand(s) we represent. That’s a big job and pulls everything from crafting the brand narrative and demonstrating values via social responsibility, through managing a consistent brand voice under the PR umbrella.
Most frequently this work is focused solely on written communications and public facing communications. But it shouldn’t be. Oral Communications, in the context of business presentations and meetings, are just as important. And because they are filtered through “others” (non-PR pros who, by virtue of their employment in an executive capacity believe they are prepared to speak on its behalf), are even more difficult to manage and therefore present a significant risk to brand reputation.
Based on observation, the problem is fairly evident. Despite all their successes, many corporate executives are bad public speakers. They freeze, lack personality, speak too quickly, mumble, are unsure, too quiet, wispy or are otherwise, in some way, less than ideal during that new business meeting or shareholder presentation. Because they (most – not all) lack the requisite skills to professionally express themselves to important audiences, those with the potential to drive immediate and future business/organizational gains, may turn away at the most important moment.
That’s where the PR team, whether internal or in agency, should come in. We know your brand voice, are trained in public communications and are trusted to deliver tough messages in tough situations. Who better to provide presentation training? This has always been a core offering of PR pros and it should be in a thriving PR future – even in a social media world.
So, C-Suite, this one’s for you. If you’re too embarrassed to ask your PR team for help or, worse yet, don’t have a PR team (call me at Strategic Objectives today!), there’s still hope. In addition to practicing before you present, which really goes without saying, you need to put these 5 exclamatory rules, tips and tricks for immediately improving presentation performance. The difference, to you and your audience, will be… enjoyable!
- Speak with Conviction! Believe in what you’re saying and project that belief outwards. Spoken word poet and teacher, Taylor Mali says it best in the video below.
- Have a Conversation with Your Audience! A presentation is fairly unnatural and can come across as though you’re trying to ‘sell’ your audience on something. This real or perceived inauthenticity can create distance between a speaker and their audience. On the other hand, a conversation is perfectly natural. We have them every day. When a presentation comes across as a conversation, the speaker can break down walls and form real connections.
- Ditch the Cue Cards! Cue cards are a crutch that we lean on to make sure we don’t miss out on the important words we intend to share. Unfortunately, they also keep you from truly presenting to your audience and make that conviction thing, awfully hard. Think about your body language if you’re clutching cards in front of you and constantly peering down to read them. No, you must practice enough to know, in your heart, that you know what has to be said and without the unnecessary support.
- Buy a Mirror! And then practice your presentation posture! Body language is just as important as what you actually say. By practicing in a mirror, you’ll learn to present with your whole body – especially your hands and facial expressions. To immediately improve your presentation posture when standing, bend your knees a bit and lean forwards. And if you’re seated, sit on the very edge of your seat – good luck slouching!
- Listen to the Audiences Eyes! Sure you’ve prepared a presentation that you need to get through. But you’re not presenting in a bubble. If there is something they’re responding to or can’t look away from, do you best to give it to them. If you’re having a conversation (see #2), you’ll notice the overt and subtle signs that you need to truly engage listeners.
By applying these 5 exclamatory rules, tips and trick, you won’t just be ready… you’ll be PR ready for your next presentation!