|Public Speaking Information|
How to Become a More Persuasive Speaker: A Systems Approach
There is no surer way to get ahead in business than to be a persuasive speaker. However, because public speaking is normally found at the top of lists of fears in the United States, many business people, especially engineers and other technical specialists, fail to make the effort to become better speakers, and thus fail to reach their potential.
In my judgment, as one who has delivered hundreds of presentations and trained thousands of business and government executives, there is no skill easier to learn, with greater payoff, than mastering the art of persuasive speaking.
So how can business people and technical specialists add the weapon of persuasive speaking to their business skills arsenal? By developing a systematic, not haphazard, method to plan, practice and present--the same systematic method they use in their day-to-day work.
A systems approach is the ideal way to draft and deliver a presentation or speech.
Surprisingly, however, few people apply the very discipline they use in their business when it comes time to stand and deliver. In this article, I want to share with you the systematic method I teach in my executive workshops and in my book, "The Shortcut to Persuasive Presentations."
Why should engineers, IT specialists and other technical experts bring the same systematic approach to speaking that they bring to their work projects? For the simple reason that being able to express yourself is the best way to stand out from the crowd. The famed management expert Peter Drucker once wrote that
"The ability to express oneself is perhaps the most important of all the skills a person can possess."
Effective, persuasive communication is the transferring of information from your brain to the brains(s) of your audience in such a manner that this audience - one or many - accepts your information as its own, and now realizes the benefits of accepting the information you are presenting.
This requires focus and an in-depth knowledge of what motivates your audience so you can direct your message to hit these hot buttons. It also requires the ability to anticipate objections and questions the audience may have, and the discipline to practice realistically.
An imperative for any oral presentation is structure. The presentation must be logical and easily followed by the audience. Thematic unity, useful in a written essay, is absolutely necessary in an oral presentation. The young Winston Churchill, in his 1897 essay, "The Scaffolding of Rhetoric," emphasized that the audience must know where they were being taken by the speaker on this oratorical journey. His famed speeches in World War ll suggests he followed his own advice.
To be an effective speaker, you must certainly know your stuff. That is almost a truism, although there are many people with more audacity than judgment who stand before a group with far less knowledge than prudence would dictate.
The majority of people who are called on to present, however, are substantive experts, and therein lays an essential problem. They believe that their knowledge is sufficient, and they need not devote any attention to delivery skills. Big mistake
In my "Presentation Skills in Nutshell" workshop for executives, I teach an easy-to-learn-and-internalize system to develop and deliver a coherent and persuasive presentation. I call it the S3P3 System. Turn on you mental PowerPoint and visualize three Pillars supporting a Pyramid. The Pillars are labeled Substance Structure, and Style, and the Pyramid is divided into three parts-Planning, Practicing, and Presenting
Let's first examine the Pillars, and then we'll climbk the Pyramid.
Only a solid grasp of the subject matter can save a presenter when confronted with an unexpected question or objection from the audience. However, Substance without Structure or Style can make the presentation an incoherent, boring recitation of data.
The knowledge of the audience's self-interest, or "What's in it for me?," is an essential tool for structuring a presentation so it hits the target of the collective mind of audience members.
Style is that almost indefinable quality of a speaker that causes audience members, even those opposed to the issue being "sold," to listen, not be bored, and to open their minds. Another word of caution: Style without Substance can expose the speaker to the charge of being shallow.
Now, let us take a look at the three levels of the Pyramid:
Good business sense dictates that the same effort which goes into the development of a product, policy, or service be devoted to the presentation whose purpose is selling this product, policy, or service. The planning stage is where the presenter develops a game plan and point of view for the presentation.
An important part of the planning process is gathering Audience Intelligence - information about the concerns, problems, attitudes, and expectations of that group of people you are about to face in your presentation.
Because the speaker needs to mesh his or her objective for the presentation with the audience's needs and concerns, the more time spent on strategic planning, the easier will be the actual presentation.
If planning is so important, why is it frequently ignored? Perhaps because time is the enemy of all, and there are such demands on our time that few people are ready to literally sit down and think. If they do so, however, they gain maximum advantage from a minimum investment of time.
An important tool in practicing is conducting a "Murder Board," a realistic simulation of the presentation in front of a suitable audience, e.g. colleagues, relatives, friends, who can put your knowledge to the test. (I have posted other articles on this extremely important aspect of practicing. I bring it to the field of presentations training from the military, where it is a staple of briefings.) In this simulation,your mistakes won't count because if you fail you can go back to the planning stage and make the necessary corrections.
Your confidence zooms when you have gone through a practice phase that enables you to say: "I know this subject better than anyone in the audience. I want them to take their best shot, because I'll be able to answer any question thrown at me!" That is the attitude you want to carry with you to the presentation.
If you have (1) done the planning, to include audience intelligence collection, and developed a focus that meshes with audience members' needs and concerns, (2) then practiced with focus, to include an intensive simulation enabling you to anticipate questions and objections, you are ready for "show-time."
Always keep this model of the three Pillars supporting the Pyramid in mind when drafting a presentation, and you will be able to deliver logically structured substantive knowledge with persuasive power.
Copyright 2005 Larry Tracy
This article is excerpted from Larry Tracy's book, "The Shortcut to Persuasive Presentations," available for purchase through PayPal at his website. A retired Army colonel, he was called "an extraordinarily effective speaker" by President Ronald Reagan. He has been cited in numerous publications as one of the top presentations trainers in the US. His website is #1 on Google for "persuasive presentations, and he will be on the cover of the July 2005 American Speaker magazine. http://www.tracy-presentation.com
Five Tired, Worn Out Speaking Cliches
The subject of public speaking is riddled with tired, worn out cliches we ought to throw out. Here are a few to let go of:
Ever notice how smoothly some speakers or writers move you through their speech or memo? It seems they effortlessly take you from start to finish without making you strain to follow.
Are You Talking the Talk?
"More learning occurs through emotion than through intellect" C.S. Lewis
How Well Do You Speak?
The ability to speak well can enhance your career, clinch a sale, sell a point of view and increase your business productivity.
Timing - Why You Should Never Go Overtime with Your Presentation or Speech
In a conference setting, nothing annoys audiences more than talks that go overtime. It shows a lack of consideration for the audience, and to be frank, there is absolutely no excuse for it if the speaker has prepared well.
Make The Most of Examples and Stories
Examples and stories can bring your presentations alive. They can transform a dull, dry subject into something which is interesting and alive. When presenters give examples, it helps explain what they are saying in a way that the audience can understand. Examples make the material you deliver less 'information' or and more 'entertainment'.
Ethics in Speaking: A Practical Point of View
Often managers have to deliver presentations with unpleasant content. The vice president has to announce that there is a hiring freeze or a downsizing. The human resource director speaks to the employees about a benefits package with fewer benefits. Because executives are often speaking in difficult situations, the more credibility they can develop, the more the content will be considered and accepted. Speakers will have little or no impact on audiences if audience members don't respect them and what they have to say.
Pay Attention To Your Appearance!
During the coffee break of one conference I attended, whispers and giggles could be heard within the conversations of small huddles of delegates. Without asking, I knew what they were all talking about because our little group were talking about the same thing.
For Speaking Ease, Forgive Your Younger Self
I love the Disney movie The Kid with Bruce Willis. In it he plays a stressed-out, high-power image consultant. He wears expensive suits, lives in a chic, elegantly furnished home and has all the money he can spend. His biggest challenge comes when a young boy--his younger self--comes to stay with him. He doesn't recognize himself at first, but then comes to see that he can heal himself by comforting the boy he was and accepting the man he is. (Don't worry, there's still a lot of other fun, surprising stuff that happens so I haven't TOTALLY given the plot away.)
Moving Key Audiences to Take Action?
You know, those really important outside groups of people whose behaviors can help or hinder any business, non-profit or association manager in achieving his or her objectives? Are you persuading those key stakeholders ? especially those whose behaviors affect your unit the MOST ? to your way of thinking, then moving them to take actions that help your department, division or subsidiary succeed?
Voice Coaching - Training Your Voice to Give Better Presentations
Picture a cool crisp autumn morning in the wide open farming lands in the Great Southern region of Western Australia at Wagin, home of the annual Wagin Woolarama and Giant Ram.
Demand Dignity in Public Speaking Training
Mandy*, a bright, attractive professional woman, had a fear of speaking in front of groups. Recognizing that her feelings of vulnerability and self-consciousness were limiting her potential, she showed up for a presentation skills class filled with trepidation. In the class, the students spent the morning listening to the instructor explain the rules of public speaking. That afternoon, they gave their presentations to the group.
"Would you like to say a few words?" How many of us dread that request? The thought of speaking off the cuff can terrify even veteran speakers. But what about the ability to give a prepared speech and sound natural?
Let Your Products Sell Your Name: For Public Speakers
Wouldn't it be great if you didn't have to be one long, giant commercial for yourself all the time? If maybe your products and your name did the promoting for you? When someone hires you to speak at a high profile event, they are taking a large gamble on your ability to engage an audience's interest, and the extent of your knowledge. That said, it is important to have some credibility to your name, or you'll be speaking at every pitiful engagement that comes along.
I am terrified of heights. The thought of skydiving, for example makes my stomach do somersaults. I am also very nervous about closed spaces, claustrophobia. People and what they are afraid of is a fascinating subject. Fear itself is a funny thing. For example, in a survey respondents indicated that even more than death, they were afraid of public speaking!
7 Sure Fire Ways To Overcome Stage Fright When Speaking Or Performing
Prayer or Meditation: If you're a believer you can pray if you are not at least take time to clear your mind and meditate. (On clearing your mind) A short prayer for God to guide you and give you the right words can't ever hurt. God has promised to give believers words even when they are under a heavy persecution; Mt 10:19. Why wouldn't he also help when there isn't any persecution? He would. Obviously you must do this before you speak. If you don't pray before you speak you might find yourself praying in the middle of your presentation for God to get you out of it as quickly as possible. Do not overlook this little gem because although it seems unimportant, it can actually be what makes or breaks your performance or presentation.
Ten Tips on Speaking with Authority and Power
No matter how good you are as a presenter, there will be times when you need to make sure you exude power and authority. If you are 'the boss' and want to be certain the staff will do your bidding you will need to come across with power and authority. You will also have to come across authoritatively when presenting at a large conference when your competitors will also be present. Equally you will need to be seen as powerful if you are wishing to make a name for yourself within your industry. However, even though you may want power and authority in these settings, you will not wish to appear arrogant or bossy. Using these ten tips you'll achieve the right balance.
How to Present Your Proposal at an Executive Meeting
What's the worst reaction you've ever gotten when you made an important presentation? Probably, it would come in second to the one I just heard about. A woman-ironically she was interviewing me for an article about "Knockout Presentations"-told me the story of her disaster. It was early in her career as a policy analyst. She was just out of school, proud of her MBA and working in her first real job. When her supervisor praised a report she'd done, she was thrilled. She was less thrilled when her "reward" turned out to be presenting the same report to their executive team.
How Authors Can Get a Free Promotional Tour
I was a celebrity lecture agent in the college and university market for over seven years. During that time, I have received hundreds of requests for authors to speak. My standard answer was always "Authors write, but they don't speak!"
How To Write Powerful Presentations, Speeches And Talks
Most of us get nervous about making a speech, whether it's to 2000 convention delegates or a PTA meeting at our child's school. Often, though, people find that's the worst part of the whole process - the anticipation. The reality is often a lot easier to handle and can even be quite enjoyable, provided that you take the necessary precaution of doing your homework beforehand - preparation.
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