In a few days, the U.S. Open tennis tournament begins at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, NY. This week, I visited the tennis center to watch the qualifying matches for players who didn’t make the main draw and also watch some of the superstars (like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal) practice.
I love watching tennis - and I think there are lessons from tennis that can apply to presentation skills:
Presenting over the phone is a common occurrence in business today, whether you are doing a sales call, conducting a meeting or connecting with clients, partners or vendors.
The challenge with phone presentations is that your voice is the only element of body language that you have to support your words. So your voice becomes even more important than when doing in-person presentations since it can broadcast your lack of confidence to your audience.
Here are six strategies for how to sound confident when presenting over the phone:
Often, people tell me, "I'm not a speaker so I don't have to think about presentation skills." I disagree. I think we are all speakers – yes, even you.
Whether you talk to a small or large audience or in a corporate, academic or community setting, you are a speaker. If you give an update to a project team, speak up at a neighborhood meeting or organize a fundraiser, you are a speaker. If you give a toast at a wedding, conduct orientation for new employees or train someone on a new process, you are a speaker.
The point of thinking of yourself as a speaker is not to make you crazy. The point is for you to become conscious of your power to communicate. Public speaking is a skill – it's not magic or a special gene. And as a skill, it can be learned and improved.
Filler words include "um," "ah," and words such as "like," "so," and "ok," which are used as a verbal bridge to the next word.
These words just fill in space while you remember or think of something to say next. Rather than being effective bridges, they are roadblocks, distracting the audience and interrupting the flow of your message. These filler words weaken your presentation and give the impression that you don't know what you're talking about. Starting every other sentence with fillers (for example, "you know" or "like I said") can also be interpreted as verbal expressions of your anxiety or lack of confidence.
The good news is that you can learn to eliminate filler words. And like with so many bad habits, the first step towards change is to become aware that you're using them.
As we come to the end of the year and reflect back on 2016, one of the highlights was the Summer Olympics in Rio. I was mesmerized watching the Olympics.
I noticed that every Olympic athlete, including all-time greats Michael Phelps and Simone Biles, has a coach. And no one thinks that their having a coach means they are weak or any less than high achievers.
Here are 7 reasons why you should follow the example of Olympic athletes and work with a coach to optimize your presentation skills and executive presence. Remember, while your presentation may not be telecast to millions of viewers across the world or come down to one one-hundredth of a second, it does make a difference to your brand, success, career and impact.
Murphy’s Law states that whatever can go wrong, will. And when you’re giving a presentation using any kind of technology, from a projector to a phone, Murphy’s Law definitely applies. I’ve seen or experienced all of these examples, and while some can be prevented or prepared for, they are all nerve-wracking when they occur!
If you are hosting a conference call on your cell phone, the call will drop at the most crucial moment of the discussion.
Whether your virtual presentation is a teleconference or webinar, it’s important that you prepare and practice it so that you can be successful. Just showing up and “winging it” – delivering a presentation without preparation - will not work.
One of the factors that makes a virtual presentation more challenging than an in-person presentation is that the audience can’t see you (unless you are doing a live streaming video) so you lose all the elements of body language which normally would help them understand your presentation. All you have is your voice.
Also, you can’t see the audience to determine if they understand you or if they have any questions (or even if they are paying attention).
And technology glitches, such as a poor internet connection or static on the phone line, often occur and interfere with your ability to communicate to the audience.
Here are 6 strategies for ensuring that your virtual presentation will be effective:
When you’re giving a presentation, it’s crucial that you don’t go over the time limit.
Whether you’ve set it yourself or have agreed to a time limit set by the meeting organizer, you need to prepare so that you can cover your topic within that time limit. No one will usually complain if you end a minute early, but the moment you go past your time limit, people will get restless and impatient.
It’s disrespectful to ignore the time limit. If you go over by ten minutes, what you’re really saying to the audience is, “what I have to say is so important that I really don’t care what it is that you’re missing while you sit here and listen to me.” And that’s not the message that you want to send to your audience and it certainly won’t help you keep their attention.