Even in an era of digital dominance, people still buy from people, whether it relates to a product, service or an idea. Therefore, it remains important to practice being yourself and delivering key messages in your own voice… For the time being anyway.
As humans, we have a great capacity to do ‘interesting’ things when under pressure, so my approach as a coach is to help others to plan for and avoid such performance peculiarities during a speech.
At the planning phase, a touch of routine can be crucial for those unpredictable moments and helps people to deliver a more comfortable, confident and compelling pitch.
Here are 5 ’must-haves’ to deliver a better version of yourself with positive energy as your support act.
1. Connect with your audience before the event.
Ask questions, fact-find, share data and use social media. This process helps you to tailor the message and break down barriers between audience and presenter. Arrive early on the day, get familiar with some names and faces so that when you speak; you’re speaking to new friends, not strangers.
2. Be Present
Use that rush of adrenaline and make a confident first impression by learning the first few lines. Predict the scene, reference something topical, recent news or a previous speaker’s presentation. It demonstrates good listening and a very ‘human’ intro, this relaxes the audience which then plays back to you.
3. Find your own voice
Take inspiration from great speakers but focus and build on your own unique strengths, so you can perform at your best. Ask for feedback, listen to the feedback then act on it, as appropriate. Don’t try to be Obama, it’s much easier to be yourself.
4. What’s in it for you?
Understand where the motivation is; for you, your team and your organization. If the motivation is too difficult to find, maybe someone else should speak.
Unless you’re a great actor, your body language will give you away and it could have a negative impact not only on the pitch but your reputation too.
Be passionate about your topic and think ‘positive first impression’. Theodore Roosevelt once commented, ‘People don’t care what you know, unless they know how much you care’.
It will show if you care, or not.
5. Plan to be natural
Practice good posture and breathing, there are lots of great breathing exercises out there for before and during a presentation. During the presentation, move about a bit as we do in real life. For example, left stage to represent ’customer’, right stage for ’service provider’. Ditto Problem/Solution or Remain/Leave.
On a personal level, two other things are important to me: music and running. Playing music before an event helps to relax the audience and this presenter.
A classical music tempo works well (Beethoven’s 9th, Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5) and most well-known modern-day anthems from your LP collection. Think inclusive, classy and avoid extremes.
I also run before an event to wake up and inject some energy. A lot of men around 40 years old tend to do this; running away from things like bills, daily chores, and reality… As well as preparing for important events.
I also encourage clients to develop and practice their own winning habits. The aim is to manage oneself and the environment so that even when we’re not feeling 100%, we can still deliver ‘quality’ for our audience.
From the world of ballet and performance, Rudolf Nureyev once said,
‘Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration’.
Nick Vertigans (@nickvertigans) is an entrepreneur and accredited coach, trainer and speaker from London. His company AJAN helps individuals and teams to develop successful habits and better results. Nick has worked at Eurostar, Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters and managed teams in the UK, Switzerland, The Nordic Region, Germany and Poland. Currently based in Helsinki, Finland, helping clients in industries ranging from auto, banking, pharma, retail, private equity and supply-chain.