Want to Deliver an Inspiring Presentation?

February 12, 2023

I’ve been thinking about what makes a speech inspiring? And then this week I watched the Grammy Awards.  Wow!  For me, hands down the best speech was Lizzo for Record of the Year:  So exciting. So inspiring. At times I was moved to tears. But why?  What was inspiring? Yes, It was what she said but most of all and how she said it.  Let’s look at what makes an inspiring presentation.

Not many of us get to speak at the Grammy Awards. But many of us will be asked to give presentations: Maybe you will be speaking at a staff meeting, doing a video like this or on a zoom call with clients. Before you speak at that event, ask yourself, what makes an engaging presentation? Short answer: great content and amazing delivery. But most all, it’s how you say it.

How do you prepare yourself for a great presentation? Here are my three top tips!

Plan the first 2 seconds

You have JUST seconds to connect with the audience. How do you connect?  You must look at the audience and smile. And you have to do that in the first two seconds. 

Three years ago, I met Dr. Wynand Dreyer. He was Nelson Mandela’s doctor while he was in prison. Dr. Dreyer told me about the first time they met. Dreyer was apprehensive. Mandela was widely regarded a dangerous criminal. But the doctor was completely unprepared for the man he met. Even though Mandela was in chains, Mandela greeted him with the most warm and gentle smile. Those first two seconds made an immediate and lasting impression on him.

You have two seconds to look your audience in the eyes and connect with your smile.

It may stretch you but you have to show people HOW you feel about your message. Meaning, the words you say have to match the emotions you display.  

Turn on your emotions

Before giving your speech look for the manuscript. If you wrote, “I’m excited to be here.” You have to say those words with feeling and excitement in your voice. I’ve actually heard some speakers deliver that line in a monotone voice! Turn on your emotions. I’M EXCITED TO BE HERE!

What if you are giving a different kind of speech? If you’re delivering bad news, slow down and show empathy. If you’re thanking someone, show warmth and smile. Your emotions must match the words you say.

Turn the volume up

Higher Volume shows energy and confidence. Lower volume communicates the opposite: that we are self-conscious, nervous or uneasy. Start strong with the volume up to show confidence!

And if you’re looking into a camera while recording a video or delivering a virtual presentation, raise the volume by 30%.

Don’t forget to vary your presentation. Turn the volume down at certain times to make a point. Slow down, lean forward when you tell them an important point, like, “It’s not so much what you say, but How you say it.” Take your time and emphasize each word.

Delivering a speech can be uncomfortable or even terrifying for some. That’s probably why many people focus on their script, reading it, but not really delivering it. But it’s not what you say, but how you say it. So plan out the first two seconds; Turn on the emotions; And Turn up the volume. Take your presentation to a whole new level, delivering a speech that’s going educate, entertain and inspire your audience.

Check out Mark DeVolder’s book Perpetual Pivot: How the Best Leaders Adapt to Exponential Change. He provides valuable insights, answers and solutions about change management, transition, leadership, engagement and teamwork. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1777386438

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