Getting the Words out of your HEAD!
One of the questions I’m often asked is how do I get the words that are in my head out of my mouth when I’m doing a presentation, speech, pitch or even sometimes in meetings. In fact, I’ve been told on numerous occasions that the inability to get the words out is on the list of “fears of public speaking. I understand that feeling. You have this great presentation, pitch, communication all worked out in your head and then when you go to present it, well, it, uh, well, it, kind of, like, um, you know, does not go at all like it you thought it would, like it sounded in your head.
There are a few things that you can do to help get the thoughts in your head out of your mouth or even out onto the paper for that matter if you’re writing a pitch or presentation. Make sure you pay attention to the following:
Clarity-What exactly is it that you are trying to say? Make sure you are crystal clear to yourself and in your notes/slides/whatever information you are presenting and speaking. Never, ever assume. Take the time to make things clear to us. Always remember, you know it, you know it well but, most of the time, we don’t. Now, granted, in certain circumstances in internal situations, people can know. But, if you are doing a pitch to a new client or any type of presentation to anyone who does not know your business, your material, etc…you MUST remember that they do NOT know what you know.
Dense Material-This bit ties right in with clarity. Often times the material you are presenting whether it is on a slide or in your head, can be very dense. It’s really important that you clearly break it down for everyone you are speaking to. Again, never assume we know and always remember that you possibly know more than we do, especially if it’s your business, you prepared the presentation, pitch or communication. As you prepare content, try to always make it visually and verbally as simple as possible. Don’t get bogged down in the depths of dense material, simplify. Remember, every 90 seconds our brains allow us the chance to check out. If the material is dense and not presented in a way we can understand, we may just jump on that 90 second check out.
Tour guide-This is a technique that I really encourage in writing pitches/presentations and in actually giving them. This bit rides nicely on the coat tails of dense material. Remember, you are the tour guide. It is important that you tell us what you are going to tell us, then tell us and then tell us what you told us. It sounds repetitive and redundant but if we don’t know your material, we will be able to keep up with you. The fact is that there is a delay from when the sound comes out of your mouth and hits my ear. If your to far gone and I’m still trying to process what you just told me, I might just want to check out. If you tell me what your going to tell me, I’ve got a heads up and can listen for it, then I hear it and then you tell me we are done and moving on by telling me what you told me. Now, don’t get me wrong, the telling me what you are going to tell me and what you told me are in no way as in depth as the actual material, it’s just buzz words. By telling me what you told me, in a brief sentence, you then also have a great segue to move onto the next session of dialogue or text.
Transitions-Of course, transitions are the slide off of tour guide. It is essential that you create transitions for us. If we are thinking about one concept and then out of nowhere we are on another concept and we did not grasp that, then you might lose us. Transitions are not necessarily for you, but great and most appreciated by your audience. Again, this is especially relevant for pitches to new clients who are not necessarily sure the dynamics of your full business or package.
Practice-The next bit is taking all of this material that you have put together and practicing it. Yes, practicing it. I often have clients tell me they would love to be like the Ted X speakers. I love the Ted X speakers and know they have lots going on, but one of the main things that they and other great speakers have in common is that they practice. Know your material, know how you’re going to present it and most importantly, say it out loud. It is different and will always be different from your head out of your mouth. Everyone can make content sound great in there head, but something happens as it comes out of your mouth. If you practice, out loud, you can catch some of these snafu’s before you actually get in front of your audience. IF something sounds off or doesn’t make sense, you can catch it before you present it. In addition, by practicing out loud you are placing the words and how you want to say them into the muscle memory. If they are there, laid in, you can pull them up without even thinking about them.
Presentation Style-Almost every client I’ve ever worked with asks me how they should present. What I mean by this is should they use cards, should they use an outline, memorize, write it out? My answer is always the same: you should present the way that works for you. For me, I have to have an outline with buzz words. I cannot follow cards because I get so engaged that I forget to turn them. I can’t memorize because I’m thinking too much about forgetting material. It’s different for every client and I don’t think any way is better than any other. I think the best way is what works for you. A side note on this, it might take trying out a few different styles before you figure out what works best for you. I’ve worked with clients who insisted they needed to memorize, we worked on delivering that way and it just did not work, so we switched to cards and BOOM, they delivered presentations like a pro. Figure out what works for you and use that style!
Notes- lastly but oh so important. I could do an entire post on note crafting. Your notes are your guide while you are guiding others. So, they need to make sense to you. When I work with people I don’t “make” them do a certain type of notes, we discover together what works best for them. For some, it’s written out, others impromptu and no notes. But, the key piece here is, however your notes are written, do not read from a fully written article, don’t even hold a fully written article in your hand because you will be way to tempted to just read it when you get nervous.
For more information or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org