Whether you are an experienced public speaker or just flirting with the idea of sharing your message with the world, you probably know that giving a great presentation involves much more than just reading from cue cards.
The good news? Learning about the essential qualities of other great presenters is an easy way to become one yourself. The following four essential qualities of all public speakers, in particular, will ensure you are delivering presentations that will influence, inspire, and make a meaningful impact on your audience.
To win at public speaking, you must know your strengths and weaknesses. What do you know? What are your greatest areas of understanding? What type of person are you? This knowledge and the qualities you possess shape who are you in public and private. Too often speakers try to be something they are not and do not appear genuine. This has a negative impact on their ability to entertain, engage, and persuade audiences.
What are your best interpersonal qualities and skills? Those who have the deepest connection with their audiences are constantly working to leverage their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. Whether they are good at telling jokes or doing team building exercises, today’s most powerful speakers know what they’re good at and you should do the same.
The best way to identify your own strengths and weaknesses is with a list. Start by focusing on your experience. In what types of situations did you feel most comfortable? Were their specific presentations that you were praised for or where others told you how well you did? What was it about those situations that were unique to you. Also, consider the situations in which you didn’t do so well. What can you learn from them? Perhaps you don’t do well when presentation with others. Or, maybe you need at least 24 hours to prepare. Identify strength and weaknesses so you can develop and grow.
2. Story Tellers
The most engaging presenters are good at telling stories. In fact, some of the best presenters I’ve ever witnessed had the ability to keep me at the edge of my seat because of powerful, personal stories. Storytelling isn’t easy, but if mastered can create some very powerful connections with your audience. One of the best ways to build your story telling skills is through listening to effective storytellers and practicing telling your own stories.
The best place to start telling stories is in the mirror. You don’t need a large audience to tell a story, you simply need to practice. One of the easiest ways to approach storytelling is with a personal story that you know extremely well. If you know the content of your story, it’s easier to focus on the art of storytelling and the nuances associated with your individual dialog. Don’t let the art of storytelling scare you. The best place to start is with a simple story that you can add dimensions too with time and practice.
Audiences love a good story, but it has to have relevance to them. Describing a story about getting locked out of your car may seem relevant to business travelers but sharing the story at a dog show is somewhat irrelevant. Some of the best stories share how someone, maybe even you, experienced struggle and/or triumph. Don’t be afraid to share a personal story and expose some of your inadequacies. Audiences relate to stories that seem believable.
When presenters share everything, people take notice. Sometimes presenters are reserved. They are guarded or share list information about themselves, their specific strategies for achieving a result, or little information that helps others reach their goals. One of the best ways to connect with your audience is by holding nothing back, by providing and sharing what you know and how you know it.
By sharing information in an uninhibited way, others learn and feel the connection with you as a person. This is very different from hearing information presented from someone, it’s much more than that. When you open yourself up to your audience, you’re sharing a part of yourself with them – your ideas, your passion, feelings, etc. This is what makes the best presenters, great. They not only are effective at telling stories or sharing information, they are open and honest, willing to let their hair down.
Approach your next presentation in an open way. Think about giving more than some random facts or data. Share a piece of yourself and let others in to your life, provide insight into your experiences and stories. This creates an immediate connection with the audience and is guaranteed to change the overall tones of your presentation.
The top speakers do more than present, they share. Knowing your material, telling stories, being open and honest, these are all vital pieces of the public speaking pie. Think beyond the podium: be self-aware, tell stories, and give.