Almost all of us speak in public at some point. In front of hundreds of people or maybe in a small meeting with four or five colleagues from work. For some people it is something habitual and they do it almost automatically. For others it is a difficult moment because they get nervous and are afraid of blanking out.
There are great communicators, capable of seducing and almost hypnotizing their audience. And there are also colder presenters, who limit themselves to transmitting knowledge in an aseptic way, without emotions.
Personally, I have been speaking in public almost all my life. I started doing it at school, I didn’t miss any opportunity. Then I had the opportunity to do theater, when I was twelve years old, in a play for adults and for adults. I had to sing a ditty:
Oh creator of the universe
I will not stop offering you
This morning the incense
Of my childhood prayer
That pissed me off a lot. Singing in front of hundreds of people helped me mature and face the masses without batting an eye. Almost without realizing it, I lost my fear of the stage. In fact, not only do I not fear them, I need them. Spotlights, screens, seats, murmurs… Some nerves at first but then absolute calm and maximum concentration. A great pleasure.
It is important to be authentic, without falsehoods, without cosmetics. People will thank us. Happy introduction!
I have no secrets, but here are some ideas for people who have to make presentations and want to improve. First of all, it is important to believe that the audience is made up of nice and friendly people. If we believe otherwise, we will fall into the trap and act in a fearful and reactive way. It is also key to look them in the eye and get as close as possible to the attendees. Good presenters connect, get closer, seek complicity. Thirdly, I think it is essential to project the voice. Not yelling, but almost. Imagine that our voice has color and see how it reaches all the spaces in the room, no matter how big it is. The voice is projected from the abdomen, not from the throat.
Then it is essential to tell a story. Whatever it is. Turn what we are going to say into a story, an adventure, an interesting narration. Humans enjoy stories. They fascinate us and educate us. Fifth, it is important, of course, to have good content. Few but deep. Do not abuse powerpoint images: ten slides are better than eighty. Select very well the images, the font, the photos, the diagrams and the drawings.
Make people participate as much as possible. And smile a lot. But it has to be a frank, sincere smile. If we make a mistake, admit it openly. If we don’t know the answer to a question, admit it too. And ask for the email address of the person who asked the question so that you can respond later. In short, it is important to be authentic, without falsehoods, without cosmetics. People will thank us. Happy introduction!
Franc Ponti, professor of innovation at EADA Business School.