Your time is valuable, so I want to give you some quick wins to help build your communication skills. You may be thinking that if you are nervous and uncomfortable giving a presentation, how can you remember what you have to say?
Well, I say you should cheat with the cheat sheet. I never give any speech without a single sheet of paper having my main bullet points in very large font so I can look at it without putting my glasses on or bending down. I don’t even have to turn the page around or even pick it up. It is a simple little thing but nobody ever does it. People think that they have to type out their entire bullet points on the PowerPoint slides when, in fact, they do not need to do that. You simply need a cheat sheet which is amazingly effective and will give people the impression that you are confident and are not just a beginner when it comes to your communication skills.
Let’s say your boss or someone incharge has given you a really boring PowerPoint presentation to give and you are afraid of putting people to sleep when you present it when you actually want them to focus on what you are saying. When you are giving the presentation, all you have to do is hit the letter B on your keyboard and the screen will black out. Now the audience has to focus on you and look at you and listen to what you are saying. You can hit B again and return to the slides. Very few people know this technique but this is a very trusted way of coming across as confident in your content when you are giving a presentation.
Here is another quick tip: it doesn’t matter if you are giving a radio or TV interview, a speech, or a job interview. If a lot of ums and ahs come out from your mouth, it sounds quite unprofessional. I use this technique when I am conducting speaking sessions: I just type out the word that is that person’s annoying verbal tic, I print it out, draw a red circle around it with a slash going through it- the international red no sign. I basically make a little sign that says no ums, no ahs, and no ers. I cut the printout and tape it to their cell phone, their watch, or their computer screen, whichever they look at the most. After about a week, it will program your brain so you do not have that annoying verbal tic coming up in your speech anymore. It costs you nothing and it is very highly effective.
The final quick tip for you to prepare for an important speech, an important phone call, an important TV interview, or a presentation, is to practice using your cell phone through the video recorder. It is the simplest and most effective method and it costs you nothing if you already own a mobile phone. But it is also not very popular because people do not like to look at themselves. However, a tip does not have to be popular in order for it to be effective.
Starting Your Speech At Exactly the Right Spot
I hope you now feel more comfortable with narrowing your messages but as I have mentioned before: that is just the first step on a journey. We are trying to communicate here.
What is communication? It is not just words coming out of your mouth. Someone else has to receive those words- they have to hear those words and understand them, as well as remember them before there is even a chance of them acting on it.
So let’s start off with the basics. You have to give a presentation or keynote to your industry next week or maybe you are just talking to your boss about what you have done in the last month. What is square one? What’s the starting point? For most people, the starting point is running around, getting a wheelbarrow, and gathering as much data as they possibly can. They stay up late, type out unlimited bullet points on PowerPoint, and work as hard as they can to collect as many data points and facts as they possibly can. Timeout! That is not your starting point when it comes to any presentation, talk, or briefing.
It is not enough to just give out information; you have to actually have an impact which is why it is critically important that your first step is to know what your own goal is, what it is you want to have happened. So what I want you to do before any speech or speaking opportunity is to ask yourself what it is that you want your audience to do. You need to be able to sum that up in one sentence. Whether you want someone to hire you, endorse you, vote for you, or even if you simply want to not be fired, identifying your goal is the ideal starting point. I need you to have that clarity because once you nail that down, it makes everything else you do in the speech preparation infinitely easier, efficient, and much more streamlined.
Remember that the people you are speaking to do not have to know everything you know about your job or what you do. If they did, they would have your job already. Very rarely when giving a presentation do you have to tell people everything you know about everything you’ve done in your life. Here is the Hallmark assignment for you right now: I am not asking you to write five thousand words or even a paragraph- I want you to just write down one sentence about what is the one thing you want your audience to do after you have given your presentation. Even if you do not have to give a speech anytime soon, just think of anything which is relevant to you. For example, if you are involved in a business, just think about a pitch you may have to make to an investor. I want you to write that down in the discussion section right now and see how it gives you real clarity.