The teacher becomes the student!

Barbara Moynihan PSA NW

Last week I delivered a ‘Masterclass in Presentation Delivery’ to members of the Professional Speakers Association North West (PSA NW) in Manchester.

As expected, this was a group of high quality speakers – some with several decades experience of being professional speakers.  Even so, they were aware, as am I, that there is always so much more to add to our professional speaking toolkit.  Additionally, there is real value in having someone who is not used to seeing you speak, looking at you with fresh eyes and giving frank and specific suggestions on how to make something that is already great, just that tiny bit better.

During the course of the session, while I was doing 1 to 1 video reviews in a separate room, I set them a few tasks.  One of these tasks was to come up with a list of their own top presentation tips.  I can tell you now – I picked a few nice tips from their list for myself!   I had an opportunity to add some more tools to my own toolkit.

Here are just 3 of their tips, enjoy!

No Eminem

I loved this expression.  This nugget came from the President of PSA NW, Sarah Fox of  Sarah told me she originally heard it from Emma Sutton who is the President of PSA Yorkshire and helps you with Words that Wow. The sentiment of No Eminem is something I would always have taught, but their tip gave me a much cooler way of expressing it.  You probably know the song by Eminem, which includes the phrase “My name is, my name is…” umpteen times.  The question is, how many presenters start their presentations with these words?  Almost all of them! 

If you want to stand out – then No Eminem.  Don’t start your presentation with “my name is…” unless, you want to sound just like everyone else.  Have a ‘drop’ opening, in other words an attention grabber and then introduce yourself.  By the way, if you have already been introduced, often you don’t need to say your name again at all.  We need to lose the obsessions with saying our names.

There is an exception I make to this rule when working with particular clients.  If someone is new to presenting or extremely nervous and finds comfort in saying their name – then I do suggest they say it.  Professional speakers – do not fall into this category! 

Make it about them

WII FM – is the radio station in your listener’s heads.  You may have heard this expression before, but if never hurts to hear it again. What’s In It for Me.

The more you can imagine yourself sitting in the audience as one of them, listening to your presentation, talk or training session – the better chance you have of success.

There is so much to think about.  Why have they come?  What are their problems?  What do they know about the topic?  What do they need to think, feel or do after hearing you speak?  Are they fluent in the language your are presenting in?  Are they male or female?  What age are they? Are they internal to your organisation or external?  What is their level of seniority?  Are they familiar with acronyms you might use?  Who have they been listening to before you?  What are they doing after you?  What questions might they have?  Do they have a positive/negative attitude to your topic? 

Sometimes speakers are so busy thinking of themselves, their content, their delivery and what they want to get from their presentation, they can overlook the all-important needs of their listeners.  

Make it about them and you will not go wrong.

Give free gifts/use props

The heading as I have typed it, is exactly what was written down during the exercise.  I loved all of their tips – this one, was definitely my favourite.

Props help people to remember, they add interest and they are fun.  When people attend any of my sessions there is always an array of props.  Some of them I do not use at all, but they create that all-important first impression and quite often generate some questions before the session has even begun.  Questions are good!

Other props can be hidden and only taken out when used.  I have used many things for props, carrots, broccoli, a beach ball, playing cards, books, cornflakes, a balloon and even a miniature light up pumpkin!    

Sometimes your props can later be used as prizes.  Recently I gave two attendees of a 2-day masterclass a gift of…. a courgette, one each.  I had the benefit of using the courgettes earlier to explain a particular point about presentation content. 

Adults love prizes.  Generally in each session, even if it is only a half day, I would aim to give out two to three prizes.  They are a great way of raising the energy in the group and also bring a little bit of excitement.  The prizes do not have to be expensive.    

I hope you enjoyed these tips as much as I did and many thanks again to PSA NW for supplying them and the many other ones – which I know were of special value to your fellow attendees.

If you would like to read more about my learnings from the PSA – see this blog following their conference last year.

If you would like to learn more about the PSA in Ireland click here and for the PSA in the UK click here.