How To Make A Blue Ribbon Presentation Every Time

You can make a Blue Ribbon presentation each and every time if you follow these 14 rules.

1. "Fire In The Belly" Remember the key word to successful communications is ENERGY. Speak with conviction. Choose topics about which you are passionately involved. If you will have "fire in your belly" for the subject, success is almost guaranteed.

2. Focus Focus on your content and presentation with laser-like aim. Capture the audience's attention with a startling fact, a powerful question, an arresting quote, or a compelling story. Speak in specifics. Include both facts and feelings. Content is critical and must be clearly outlined and thought through. Presentation skills, however, are what make a presenter effective.

3. Performance Every time you speak, whether one-on-one or to hundreds, you are performing. Make the performance powerful! Put your whole self into the presentation. If the performance suffers, the content is of little value.

4. Voice Color Use voice color. We call it vocal variety. What we don't want is a black and white, bland, monotonous presentation. What we do want is the antithesis of monotony. Learn to whisper and to shout. Speed up and slow down. Pause. Pause some more. Use your entire vocal scale. Think of your voice as a fine violin, oboe or clarinet. Make the tones alive and colorful.

5. Eyes Use your eyes. Eyes are one of our most powerful means of communication. If your belly is on fire for your subject, your eyes can tell the story. Make eye-to-eye contact with your audience. As you look at one person, finish a sentence or a thought, then look at another. Let your focus linger one to three seconds. Talk to one person at a time. This creates intimacy. You will be far more personal and effective than if your eyes scan the crowd.

6. Face Use your face. The greatest bank account we have in human relations is free. It's a smile. Add your smile to penetrating eyes and expressive brows. With eyes on fire and an intense face you will capture the attention of the most callous. Your face is like a television set. People will watch it with more interest if there is color and energy in the picture.

7. Body Parts Add the power of your body. After your eyes and face come the all-important carrier of the message... your body. Stand tall. Use gestures. Over-emphasize them when you practice. Make bold rather than timid gestures, broad rather than small! Great stage performers have learned how to take advantage of their body, face, eyes, and space.

8. Balance Maintain physical balance. There's a subtle difference in the respect awarded those who stand tall and speak with their weight equally balanced on both feet. You lose none of your warmth and appeal by standing tall. You gain stature and a sense of power. It is fine to move, but do so with a purpose. Do not wander aimlessly, pacing and creating a cadence of movement. This becomes monotonous, wears down your audience, and renders the presenter far less effective.

9. Involvement Involve the audience. Be sensitive to the audience's needs. Get to know them before you speak. Find out what their individual interests are. Weave that into your presentation. Balance your emphasis between content and relationships, facts and feelings. We, as presenters, must strive to answer the multiple needs of an audience. Create a balance of information and entertainment.

10. Practice! Practice! Practice! This is the most important rule of all. Practice - Practice - Practice. Never take a speaking engagement lightly. If you are to do your best, you must practice. Some presenters fall into the trap of winging it. The danger is that sometimes "wingers" do a great job. So, they assume they are most effective with no practice. Ask Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jordan, Billy Graham, Tiger Woods, Liddy Dole, Colin Powell, Jerry Seinfeld, or any star salesperson you know -- the greats practice! No exceptions.

11. Get Rid of Your Need to be Perfect Perfection is an impossible objective. Replace "perfect" with "be my very best." Being perfect is impossible-don't attempt it!

12. Rehearse Q & A When a question and answer period is appropriate, rehearse the Q&A session just as diligently as you do your talk. If there is the possibility of controversy or tough questions, identify the five toughest questions you could be asked and prepare a rehearsed answer for each.

13. No Booze ? No racy material ? No obscene language Booze will not make you sharper. It is a very treacherous friend. Off-color material and 4-letter words are not necessary. They will offend someone in every audience. There are too many good words in the English language that will represent you well. Don't resort to cheap laughs and uneasy applause.

14. Practice . . . some more . . . and confidence will travel with you.

You can do it!

Ty Boyd, CEO of Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, is in the Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Speakers Hall of Fame. He has taught presentation skills to Fortune 1000 executives in more than 34 countries. His Excellence In Speaking Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2005.

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