The Rules of Thumb blog from MoneyThumb has readers from many different walks of life. Even though anyone can gain a great deal of knowledge from reading our blog, our content is mostly directed toward accountants, CPAs, small business owners, and private lenders. One thing leaders from each of these niches have in common is that at times they must speak before a group of people, or make a presentation. Whether it is standing before your accounting firm's employees and discussing policy, presenting a proposal for funding to lenders as a small business owner, outlining plans to investors as a private lender or speaking before your peers at a community event, today's blog post is for you.
Most everyone has heard of TED, but if you have never listened to a TED talk, you are really missing out. TED talks are always informative and uplifting, at the very least. Below is their mission statement from the TED website:
"TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we're building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world's most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long."
In our blog post today we are going to share advice for those of you who make presentations from TED's director of speaker coaching, Briar Goldberg in an article from Inc.com. By applying Goldberg's advice to your next speaking engagement you should be able to always make your presentation successful. The following tips will be especially helpful to anyone who is about to make their first-ever presentation or public speech, no matter its purpose.
Tips for a Successful Presentation From a TED Top Speaking Coach
Goldberg starts with fairly standard advice that is still a big miss for many speakers: First and foremost, you have to build your talk with your audience in mind. It's what she followed with that really caught my eye, though. She says to do this in a powerful way, ask yourself one powerful question: "What gift are you giving to your audience?"
Thinking of your talk as a gift forces you to raise the bar on everything about it --the content, the delivery, the preparation, everything. If it doesn't feel like a gift after you write and rehearse your talk, there's more work to do. Goldberg's counsel inspired me so share what I believe are the six essential gifts you can give your audience (depending on the objective of your presentation).
People sit down in front of you for an hour or more to learn something they can take action on. But I'd argue that not just any learning will do--it needs to be compelling enough to move the audience to action. That's why I build epiphanies into my talks, four to six anchor points placed throughout the talk that clear the bar for being super insightful and compelling. Don't fret if you don't solve the earth's mysteries in your talk; common knowledge can be made into an epiphany if emphasized in a memorable way if expressed in a clever turn of phrase, or by applying it to an audience's specific situation or circumstance.
2. A transformation
People not only want to learn something from you, but they also want to change something because of you. At a minimum, you have the chance to point out what needs to change about their behavior and why (often to achieve the desired outcome you're making the case for), and how they can begin to make that change. While a transformation can feel daunting to deliver, ask yourself, "What's the first step the audience can take to begin the transformation I'm highlighting?" Then share at least that. The journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.
3. A solution to a problem
Professional speakers often get hired to solve some kind of problem. For example, I get hired as a speaker to help companies struggling with employee engagement, employee retention, and hiring, or that are facing a lot of change and want to thrive in the face of it. Ask in advance what problems your audience is struggling with, what's keeping them up at night. Talking to the audience in a way that demonstrates you understand their issue and presenting crisp solutions is a tremendous gift to give.
4. Direction and a plan to get started
Sometimes you might expose a problem the audience didn't know they had. That's a gift, but you can't leave them hanging. Provide some direction and a plan for how to begin tackling the issue you've uncovered. Audiences want tangible next steps, and since not enough speakers do this well, doing so will feel like a gift to them.
5. Entertainment and escape
A good talk feels like an escape. Whether it's riveting, wildly informative and insightful, transformational, funny, sad at times, or involves any number of other emotions, audiences love the chance to feel. Something. Anything. The opposite of which is what's usually felt in the standard 60-minute talk--nothing. Wallpaper. Ask yourself if your talk will take people away from their daily lives for an hour in the way you intend it to.
6. A greater sense of community
What gift are you giving your audience? It's a brilliant question to ask. Craft an equally good answer.