Everyday work life always demands public speaking in presentations, speeches or lectures. In a comprehensive analysis, the Harvard Business Manager examined the appearances of CEOs of large corporations and found out what makes a good presentation.
Around 87% of top executives sacrifice their own free time for coaching sessions in order to develop their skills in the art of rhetoric. Incidentally, Telekom CEO Tim Höttges has been awarded the title of "The Best Manager Appearance 2018" among the DAX CEOs. Even if you don't give lectures to the extent of Höttges, you can learn a lot from good speakers.
Present more than just data
Do you still remember that one fun fact - but the business figures of the last quarter do not remain in your memory? Your audience at a lecture will have the same experience with figures. Now how can you make it clear that an audience can easily follow your presentation?
Try to build up a suspenseful arc and lead through your topic with speech pictures. Chris Anderson, CEO of the legendary TED Talks, admits that there is no recipe for the perfect speech. But through years of observing hundreds of high-level presentations, Anderson has defined four core characteristics of a good presentation:
- Focus on an essential topic. Limit your speech to a specific idea or concept and explain the topic with examples.
- Arouse interest in the audience. Make your audience curious about the topic. Ask challenging questions calmly and build suspense on the answers.
- Build ideas on understandable concepts. Use concepts and examples that are already familiar to your audience and use them to explain abstract topics. Do not shy away from metaphors for a pictorial language.
- Give a utility value. Make it clear to whom your presentation is useful and brings advantages. In this way you will create clarity about the relevance of your concept for yourself and your audience.
Prepare yourself for the presentation situation
Before you step in front of an audience, however, you should deal with the formalities of your speech yourself. During the preparation you will have the opportunity to lay out your words and presentation slides for the message and the audience. This is the best way to go into preparation:
- Prepare your speech as text. Pay attention to the presentation situation: Who is the audience? How much time is available?
- Do rehearsal runs in front of colleagues, friends or family
- Integrate feedback into your presentation
On stage you should be able to speak so confidently and freely without having to read from a notepad or even speak to the wall on which the presentation slides are projected. This is because the slides do not serve as support for presenters, but as visualization for the audience. For the text itself, the motto has always been: Less is more. Fully written slides distract the audience from your presentation. Rather use strong keywords and the appropriate multimedia content, such as graphics, photos or videos, to visualize your concepts.
Score with clear speech
During the presentation, you want to create a pleasant atmosphere for the audience and ensure attention. A relaxed and self-confident appearance as well as an intelligent way of expression help to create a pleasant atmosphere. In addition, communication with the audience requires clear, easy and catchy language.
SAP CEO Bill McDermott sees the speeches as being primarily on behalf of the audience. As far as the style of presentation is concerned, McDermott advises self-confidence. "Let your positive energy carry you. The audience is sure to take a positive feeling out of your presentation."
Have courage to speak
Dare to take short breaks from speaking. Pauses, used in a targeted manner, build up tension, bring dynamics to your speech and give the audience the opportunity to follow what is being said. The repeated use of filler words such as "um" makes it difficult to listen and interrupts the flow of speech in an unattractive way. In the perception of the listeners there are short (0.2 seconds), medium (0.6 seconds) and long pauses (over one second). Use this small moment to collect your thoughts and to reproduce them clearly.
Train your speech
Either beginner or advanced - there is always room for improvement. This is a central point that the Harvard Business Review filtered out after analyzing speeches by the DAX CEOs. In connection with this, HBR also proposes to use acting lessons and to train a stage behavior that looks natural and authentic. An open and relaxed appearance on stage is not a matter of course for many people, but can be learned well in training and bring clear points of sympathy with the audience.
Finally, the same applies here: No master has fallen from heaven yet. Whoever practices will present well. Treat your presentation as a chance to pass on your information and as a challenge to find a creative way to connect with your audience. Good luck!
literature: Harvard Business Review, Februar 2019
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