Monday, June 01, 2009

The ABC's of Public Speaking - B is for Backstage

In my consulting with executives on how to improve their presentation skills I have discovered that many people are craving advice on this topic. Thus I am dedicating the blog to this topic for the next several weeks.

B is for Backstage

The most important point of preparation before you deliver a presentation to an audience can often be the one minute before you begin. As you stand backstage or off to the side of the room, take a moment to visualize your key points and your strong closing remarks. See the level of enthusiasm in your mind and the smiles, laughs and applauds from the audience.

Top athletes like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and others talk of seeing a successful shot in their head before they ever swing the club or release the ball. The same visualization can help anyone who is about to give a speech.

In his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey's second habit is "Begin With the End In Mind". He instructs that you have to create your successes twice, the first time being in your minds-eye. You must clearly know what success looks like if you wish to achieve any goal. Your expectations of delivering a strong presentation that impacts your audience is no different.

While you will have most likely invested hours in preparing your remarks, PowerPoint and handouts, do not neglect taking a private moment to gather your thoughts and give yourself a mental pep-talk. Get centered and focused on the task at hand of delivering the speech. This will leave you 100% engaged with the audience from the moment you start talking.

Too many people jump up and "wing it" in regards to kicking off their presentation. They think that they can rely on their knowledge of the subject and their snazzy slides to wow the audience. But those who take the time imagine the power of their words caressing the ears of those listening are the speakers who are better remembered. A powerful presentation is no different than a Broadway play. You would never see an actor go before the audience without mentally being "in character".

It only takes a minute. Close your eyes. Think of what are your three most important parts of your presentation, and feel the connection that you have with the audience. Know the purpose of your being there and believe you are the expert on your topic. As soon as you are introduced come onto the stage and execute your well prepared remarks, making your vision of a strong impact become the reality.

Have A Great Day.


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