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Inside the Dynamic Presenter

by Ken Bradford

Component One. They don't like making presentations. They like making memorable presentations.

What is a memorable presentation? I believe it is one that not only involves us mentally, but also stimulates us to feel something. If the speaker wants others moved by his message; he must be the first person moved.

But what if he can't? What if he can't get that interested in what he's doing? Then let him take his place with the vast majority of presenters who are emotionally disconnected from the subject.

Great speakers are the message. They realize it, not memorize it. It is a dream bigger than them, but contained within. When they share it with us it is not just a presentation. It is a brief tapping of their core, their truths spilling over at us, flowing forcefully into our consciousness.

What is essential is invisible to the eye. Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Component Two. They know the enemy is sameness.

Listeners like organized information, but they love change. A psychologist once told me that the human mind craves two inputs - organization and chaos. Hardly a surprise, then, that the Greatest Show on Earth has surplus entertainment simultaneously unfolding in three orderly rings on the circus floor. How does the dynamic speaker include organization and chaos into every presentation? By numbering each point while wearing a clown outfit? Hardly.

Dynamic speakers simply remember what it's like to be in the audience and then they structure the performance to fill the need. Audiences have short attention spans, and they're getting shorter. They're already full of data, so they filter almost everything to keep from having more to digest.

Replacing what they are already thinking with your message is challenging, but possible if you think about it first. What gets inside must be inherently more interesting or delivered in a stimulating manner so that it supersedes whatever they are already thinking about. Few communicators can hold audience attention for more than twenty minutes using only words. Think how hard it would be for you to sit and watch a radio, for example. Variety is what helps you hold an audience's attention.

Examples:

  • Purposeful gestures and body movement
  • Props
  • Personal stories
  • Audience participation
  • Changing the pace
  • Music
  • Video
  • Contest, quizzes, guest, skits
  • Your own enthusiasm

And never blame the subject matter as the reason people fall asleep.

Variety is still the spice of life -McCormick

Component Three. They use the tools of persuasion.

  1. First person eye-witness stories. Painting a visual memory from their mind to yours.
  2. Dialogue versus monologue. Speaking inclusively with words like "you, your, us, we, our".
  3. Powerful pauses. Letting your most succulent phrase marinate in the listener's mind, before introducing another spoonful.
  4. Funneling - deductive reasoning. Steering your point along an accepted path of logic.
  5. Occupy more space on stage Space equals power. Don't just be another talking head.
  6. Understatements. Delivering a generally accepted negative fact, just in front of your positive point. i.e. "This sugar substitute won't change your life, but it will make it a little sweeter."
  7. Analogies. Offering a comparison of a new thought with one already familiar to the audience.
  8. Contrast and antithesis. Making greater mental impact by citing a difference or opposite example.
  9. Anecdotal stories. Not telling a personal tale, but telling a proven tale to make your point.
  10. Simple drawings on a flipchart can help prove your depth of understanding.

If you can speak to groups you can get by, but if you can skillfully communicate, you can work miracles. -Jim Rohn

Component Four. They understand the enormous attraction of being vulnerable.

People relate to people. We see ourselves in other's strengths, weaknesses, feelings and fears. Speaking in a guarded, professional manner may seem like a good idea, but it buries our personality, vitality, and uniqueness. Nothing is more bonding than when the speaker shares an unrehearsed innermost thought. They may have heard everything before, but they have never heard your personality giving your opinion on the subject.

Dynamic presenters can hush the negative inner voice that asks, "If they really knew me would they still like me?" Unless you're a serial killer or complete crook, the answer is probably yes, but they will never be able to form an opinion or have a lasting impression of you if you hide who you are. Loathe facades.

Dare to be yourself - your best self!

Component Five. They try to avoid sin.

Speaking sins kill rapport and create barriers. Ten of the deadliest are:

1. Expecting the slides to explain or sell the message 2. Reading lengthy text or bullets to an audience. 3. Repetitious useless words like "uh" and "like". 4. Poor use of eye contact and a neutral facial expression. 5. Predictable gestures and body movement without purpose. 6. Lack of logical direction or intent due to improper planning. 7. Monotone, narrow voice range or lack of energy. 8. Too many overheads or slides. 9. Going overtime without consent. 10. Lack of a sense of humor.

Dynamic speakers make it look simple and easy while they're up there. Professionals always make it look effortless, but under the surface they're paddling like mud-ducks to hit every point. No one is born with effective speaking skills. Personality may be inherent, but learning to use the above tools takes a little time and practice, as does any skill.

But in the middle of learning something difficult lies opportunity. The person who dares to learn to communicate in a dynamic and effective way, especially during uncertain times as these, is certain to inherit the future.

Then the world's my oyster. -Shakespeare

Ken Bradford is the founder and instructor of The Leaders Course® in effective speaking and human relations.

 

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