With the many resolutions you make this year about losing weight (I know I did, again), saving money or traveling more, what if there is one that can help you be more connected with yourself and your potential, get ahead in your career and also impact lives in the process?
What’s that resolution, you may ask?
It is probably one that many people need to embrace but fear about doing so. Yes, it’s about speaking in public.
When asked what are some of the best habits one can cultivate in their 20s and 30s that will form a solid foundation for success, billionaire investor Warren Buffett answered,
“You’ve got to be able to communicate in life and it’s enormously important. Schools, to some extent, under-emphasize that. If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”
For all that’s worth, we agree that public speaking is not a walk in the park for most people.
So while 2015 may not be the year you become the next Anthony Robbins (or some will say, Adam Khoo, in Singapore), you can embrace the following three ideas to be immediately more engaging and interesting for your next presentation in 2015.
Whether your next speaking opportunity is happening next week or month, you want to come across as more engaging and interesting because you can achieve your presentation objectives with an audience who is enrolled into what you’re saying. When this happens, they become more receptive and in-tune with what you want to offer and achieve through your presentation.
This advice are also part of my book, INSPIRIT – How Asian CEOs Inspire Action From The Stage’ with insights from 12 leading Asian CEOs of companies like Bain & Company, LinkedIn, Maxus (part of GroupM), FLY Entertainment and my work as a public speaking coach.
1. Be Interested and Invested
Consider that some of the most interesting speakers are also some of the most “interested” speakers.
Wait, what does that mean?
It means that they are interested in matters like their topic at hand, the value this speech or presentation represents for their audience, the tangible and intangible takeaways for their audience, the most effective manner that their audience take in information.
Conversely, the “disinterested speaker” thinks that this is “yet/just another speech”, their audience will “get it” or that “I can wing this”.
Which of the two speakers, are you?
Before you want to be interesting as a speaker, first be interested enough in your audience and what you can do to serve them. Invest in preparation before you step up the platform.
One of the easiest things you can do is to be more “you-centric”.
In his Presidential Acceptance Speech 2012, US President Barack Obama delivered a rousing 21-minutes victory speech. One of the six points I’ve identified about his successful delivery was his deliberate usage of pronouns and that the speech was heavily focused on the electorate.
With a detailed speech analysis on my blog, we realize that President Obama used the following pronouns in his speech:
I – 33 times
You/you’re/your – 56 times
We/Us/Our – 110 times
What this does in effect for the audience is to make them feel that they are constantly being involved and important in the speech.
So for your next presentation, think how you can veer from talking just about yourself or your company to your audience and their agendas instead.
2. Tell a story (of yourself)!
Without going into the mechanics of what makes a good story, consider that a good story told is one of the most effective mechanisms to reel your audience in without them knowing and have them standing on your side.
Take for example – you may be asked to present to your bosses about a new case you’ve taken on or a review of your key responsibilities for last year.
Instead of just adopting a blow-by-blow recount of the work you did, you can tell stories about the biggest struggle in the process, a “turnaround case” that you made possible, a “failure” that you managed to reconcile with, a new lesson you discovered about your company or work or a paradigm shift you noticed for yourself.
In our book, one of our CEOs interviewed, Irene Ang (Founder, FLY Entertainment), believes that “you are your own best tool” in your presentation, not the Powerpoint slides.
When speaking with us her experiences about running FLY Entertainment, she didn’t just speak plainly about her revenue figures, turnover, number of artistes being managed at her company, FLY, or the upcoming gigs for her company.
Instead, she shared with us the story of how the love from her grandmother inspired her to achieve her sales target as a financial advisor. Yet, on the same fateful night when she submitted her last case for the financial year, she received a call from her aunt to rush to the hospital to see her grandma for the last time.
Stories like these move people and inspire greatness in us because they are true, authentic and a part of you. You are truly your best tool in your presentation.
What is a story you can tell for your next presentation?
3. Expand Your Expression Range
Consider that there can be a barometer for your range of expression on stage.
On the left hand side of this “expression barometer”, you may be more “left-brained” as a speaker – you are likely logical, objective and analytical as a speaker so you tend to use data, diagrams, frameworks and processes in your presentation.
Conversely on the right hand side, if you tend to be more “right-brained” as a speaker, you’d be more intuitive and emotional. You will likely incorporate props, dramatization, humour, and storytelling in your presentation.
Now, you may currently be a speaker who’s more comfortable with a more factual and to-the-point fashion of presenting (R1 – Range 1) but that may be limiting you in terms of connecting with an audience who may not be as cerebral or technical, as you are.
So your task is really to expand your range of expression into one that sees you embracing more tools of expression, language patterns, rhetorical devices (like analogies) in your upcoming presentations.
Now when you can embrace those changes, you are effectively increasing your range of expression (R2 – Range 2) and this gives you more leverage to vary your mode and methods of presenting as with what your audience will require!
About the Author: Benjamin Loh is an Executive Public Speaking Coach, TEDx Speaker and a Personal Development Gen-Y Blogger. As the youngest Associate Certified Coach (as credentialed by International Coach Federation) in Singapore and possibly, Asia- Pacific, he coaches senior executives, Directors and CEOs in speaking effectively and confidently. His work in entrepreneurship and activism has also been covered on over 40 occasions on over 10 media platforms like Channel News Asia (CNA), Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) and Straits Times (ST)
If you are keen to find out more about our INSPIRIT book, check out our pre-ordering platform. With over 300 pre-orders to date, you can likewise learn how to speak like a CEO and fulfil your resolution of being a more effective speaker and presenter in 2015!