By Kathleen Giery, APR, CPRC
‘People buy you before they buy what you’re selling.’
That is the lesson that Annetta Wilson, media trainer and success coach, provided her audience during a breakout session this afternoon. She shared a proven template for introducing your presentations that not only will put you, as the speaker, at ease but also make your audience comfortable with you from the start. She shared how to balance the content of your presentation, how to physically prepare and get in the mindset of your audience and also gave some expert tips and reminders.
According to Wilson, when you are giving a presentation, you are not just sharing data and information, you are managing energy. Just like you can recognize those people who zap your own energy or those on whose energy you feed, you need to determine what the audience needs from you in terms of energy and then deliver that.
She went on to say that every presentation should start with four basic steps that allow the audience to ‘buy’ you.
The first is to take a moment to scan the room. Look to see who is there, what the make-up of your audience is. This gives the illusion of making eye contact.
The second is to ask two enrolling questions. Ask uncomplicated questions that will engage 100 percent of your audience. Regardless of whether or not a person will choose to answer, it will get his mind working on the answer. ‘How many of you give presentations?’ was the first question she asked during her self-introduction. She raised her hand and nodded as she looked around the room, which prompted members of the audience to raise theirs. The simple act of having an audience member raise his hand gets him physically involved in your presentation.
Third, tell the audience what is in it for them, what they are going to learn and be able to take away from the talk.
Lastly, earn the right to stand before them. Tell the audience about your background and experience and credential yourself. Don’t introduce yourself first thing, as the audience is still getting settled. If someone is introducing you, ask them to keep it short so that you’ll have time to share your background personally.
The overall structure of your presentation should follow a 10-80-10 rule. The first 10 percent consists of the introduction mentioned above. The following 80 percent of your presentation consists of only three main points. The final 10 percent is a variation of your introduction – instead of telling them what you are going to tell them, tell them what you told them – as well as your call-to-action.
Adding to the structure, Wilson said each of the three main points also should have three sub-elements. If, for some reason, you are given less time that you originally expected, don’t drop the sub-elements of your main points; rather, drop the third of your main points and stay on task with fully explaining the first two.
Using a technique she mastered in her broadcasting days, she said that as you prepare for your presentation, mentally create a list of questions that someone completely unfamiliar with your topic might have. Even though you are the subject-matter expert, members of your audience will not be. Often times your audience won’t tell you that they don’t get it, because you’re talking to them as though they’re on the same page with you. By thinking of your topic from their perspective, you will help ensure that they gain as much from your presentation as possible.
Wilson also shared some physical exercises you can use to relax your joints and release endorphins.
1. Perform neck rolls to each side followed by shoulder rolls forward and backward.
2. Do some shadowboxing with your fists above your heart.
3. Jump up and down a few times and do a few push-ups against the wall.
4. Take a series of deep breaths and smile for 20 seconds.
She also shared a variety of general tips and reminders:
1. You can use humor as long as you direct it toward yourself and don’t let it get you off track.
2. Always leave the audience wanting more.
3. There is no information that can’t be conveyed through a story. Use testimonials from your clients or customers about how your product or service helped someone else.
4. People will pick up on your energy before they pick up on anything you say.
5. Avoid having a barrier, like a podium, between you and your audience.
6. To avoid the ‘verbal graffiti’ – the ums, ers and ahs – speak more slowly and pause in between sentences.
Annetta Wilson is president of Annetta Wilson Media Training 7 Success Coaching in Orlando. She is a business strategist specializing in presentation skills training, communication skills coaching and media training for executives, entrepreneurs and subject-matter experts. She also coaches individuals on personal and work-related communication issues. A Certified Mastery Coach and Certified Trainer, she has coached on-air journalists at CNN, coached for Walt Disney World’s Ambassador Program, trained executives at AAA, Tupperware Brands and others, and trained physicians at Orlando Health. An award-winning journalist, Wilson worked in the broadcast industry as a television news anchor, reporter, producer, talk show host and writer. She holds the distinction of being the first African-American weekday evening news anchor in Central Florida.