The day? Friday, afternoon, and the end of a very long week of training sessions for work.
There’s only one more trainer to come – and you groan, as you see it’s Neville from HR.
Now, Neville’s a nice enough guy, and he certainly knows the ins and outs of Human Resources, and company policy, and making the workplace safe and inclusive.
But as a speaker, Neville is … just …. so … boring.
He brings up a Power-point – each slide packed with closely written text – and then he reads out what’s on each slide.
But even worse, he doesn’t look at you – he looks at his slide notes, and mumbles.
It”s excruciating – and within minutes people around you are checking their phones, and planning their weekend, and wool-gathering.
In fact, the only thing they are NOT doing, is taking any notice of the message.
I’d bet dollars to donuts that you have had this sort of experience.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Neville doesn’t HAVE to be boring.
Neville is, after all, an expert in his field – and he didn’t get that way by hating his job.
In fact, Neville genuinely believes that HR is crucial to the company’s success – and the happiness of its workers.
Of you, and your colleagues.
So how can Neville share that passion? How can he make YOU want to care about compliance, and company policy, and procedural fairness, and equity?
By letting himself get excited about his subject.
Imagine what would happen if Neville ditched the close-typed dry-and-boring slides and started to tell stories about when workplaces fell apart because harassment and bullying was rife.
And then told stories of turnarounds in company fortunes when employees and employers worked together to build a culture of respect and encouragement.
As an audience member, you’d be much more receptive to Neville’s message – and he could back that message up with handouts of the notes, to ensure you learn what you need to learn.
We spoke, back in Top Ten tip number 4, about how the audience is more important than the presenter.
But that doesn’t mean that you, as the speaker / presenter, can just do a ‘data dump’ and hope the audience pick what they need from your speech.
You need to guide them, holding their hand and convincing them to follow your lead.
You need to give them a compelling reason to listen – and that’s especially true after lunch, at the end of a long day 🙂
You need to inject a little excitement, a little pizzazz into your presentation.
One of the first things I was told as a new and nervous speaker is that its OK to be a bit nervous.
In fact, its a good thing to be a bit nervous. Why?
Because you can use that nervous energy to give your presentations a spark.
It was described as ‘teaching the butterflies in the stomach to fly in formation’
You can – and should – use that nervous energy to step away from the lectern or computer, make eye contact with your audience, move around a bit.
Now, it doesn’t have to be a thousand-watt smile and running around the stage – but you can get your message across much more effectively if you let your passion bubble through.
Because like Neville, you have expertise to share – and a chance to shine, if you let yourself.
Tomorrow, in tip number 8, what to do when you’re asked to speak with no notice.
4 thoughts on “Top 10 Tips for Speakers #7 – Get excited about speaking!”
Graham this priceless – lessons in story form for attention grabbing speeches/presentations. We may have been like Neville and we probably know other Nevilles; I plan to share this post with others – best one so far!
Hi Graham, this was the opening I used for my very first (ice-breaker) speech for Nambour Toastmasters.
“I was going to start behind the lectern tonight or as I like to call it ‘the lectern of safety’ and if I sensed it was going well I’d move to the front as a sign of bravery. 1st speech bravery! Oh who am I kidding, start here, start there. I’m so nervous tonight I could finish up in the car park!”
Graham, even after 3 years I’m extremely nervous right up to the moment I speak. I’m so nervous my vision can be blurry. I have to keep telling myself that I now have a history of giving speeches and it will be fine..
The way I handle my nerves is I always like the first line of a speech to be funny straight away. Once I hear the laughter or see people smiling I settled down and can enjoy myself.
Yes, I need to use my nervous energy.
PS: I really value your evaluation of my speech “The Compliment Sandwich”. I have written down the key points you made and refer to them when my confidence wanes.
Thanks for this, Bradley .. and you cannot imagine how glad I am to hear that my feedback has helped you!
While not every story can (or even should) start with a laugh, you have discovered one of the keys to successful presentation – the audience has to be involved from the word ‘go’
So whether its a funny line, or a thought-provoking statement, or an expression of anger, or a ‘What’s in it for me’, get the audience involved early.
And use your nervous energy to keep YOU engaged 🙂
Best of luck with your speaking journey.
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