Speaking and Presenting Convincingly: 6 Tips From the Expert

Not only what you say, but also how you say it’s important. A complicated story also deserves to be told in an inspiring way. Presentation and pitch expert explains in six steps how to touch and convince your audience.

“Yes, but it doesn’t work that way with us.” that’s about the quality response i buy from participants once I provide training at companies with a scientific, policy-based approach. ‘We need to explain plans and advice, not tell a story.’

Oh, no? Yes! Every audience wants to be included in a story. To be convinced, to be stimulated. Whether you speak in front of your colleagues during a meeting, make your point in a one-on-one conversation, or give a presentation in front of a full house. But how exactly do you do this? Let me share with you some of my top tips for public speaking.

Be relevant

During the first 30 seconds of your presentation or pitch, your listener only wants to know one thing: what’s in it for me? Why do I have to listen to you? In other words: what’s in it for me? Think carefully in advance who you are speaking to (who your target audience is) and why your story is interesting for this audience. If you can’t answer this question within half a minute, your audience will not be affected and will not be motivated to listen to you further.

When thinking about your ‘why’, make sure that your story really has added value for your audience. ‘Because it’s on the agenda’ is of course not a provocative answer.

Be aware of your non-verbal communication

How your story comes across is 80 percent dependent on your non-verbal communication. Your stage presence is essential in convincing your audience. Try to be really present during speeches, presentations, or pitches. Put both legs firmly in the ground. Take a moment to get used to the space you occupy. Feel that you are present in the here and now.

Are you completely there? Then don’t forget to look at your audience, smile, and have an open attitude. Show emotion in your face and use convincing hand gestures.

Use a texture

Nothing is more boring than an incoherent story. Your audience wants to know where it stands. My tip: take your listeners by the hand, as it were, and ‘walk’ through your story or presentation with them. Do this using the following model:

  • Tell us what you are going to tell
  • Tell it
  • Tell me what you said

By following this order, you ensure that your story has a clear beginning, middle and end. This sounds simple, but applying it really consistently still proves to be quite a challenge for many of my trainees. Try it for yourself!

Keep it alive

You can have such an interesting story in terms of content, but if you don’t bring it inspiring, half of your audience will drop out. It is not only about what you say, but also how you say it. Think carefully about how you want to dress up your story. Frequently used ‘beautiful makers’ are: an appealing anecdote, an inspiring quote or an enlightening metaphor.

Mooimakers do not ensure that you stay away from the content, but rather that the content reaches your audience more clearly and convincingly. It is important here: make sure that the decoration of your story suits you. Keep it authentic.

Just keep breathing

Easier said than done of course, but really: take a breath. If you are not relaxed, you are less convincing. Try to ease your nerves by taking ‘deep’ breaths. If you feel your breathing in your stomach instead of your chest, your nerves will decrease and you will speak more confidently.

Dare to fail

You could have gone through all the talking tips and tricks so well, in the end, it comes down to nothing less than just doing it. Finally, one last – and perhaps the most important – tip: don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that your audience is ultimately made up of ‘just people’, who, like you, have their own insecurities. It is precisely by falling and getting up again that you learn to speak convincingly.

Felix Tammi

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