What do you think is the biggest challenge business executives face when delivering a speech?
- Making eye contact with the audience
- Ensuring speech materials are factually accurate
- Finding enough time to rehearse the presentation
- Not boring the audience to tears
If you guessed “d” you are correct!
Not long ago I was chatting with the director of a top business school devoted to training business executives. He said the tendency to “drone on and talk facts” was the biggest obstacle executives face when trying to connect with their audiences.
Naturally I asked him what he thought the solution was. His answer, in a nutshell — “personalize your communication style.”
Think about it — if you’ve ever found yourself engrossed in a speech, it is almost certain that the speaker was able to captivate you with a compelling style and an engaging approach. Clearly, the speaker was able to personalize what he or she was talking about in such a way that you were drawn in, making you feel connected to her or him, perhaps even more than to the material.
That got me thinking about how one can achieve a personalized approach. I’ve broken it down to four essentials.
The Language Lab’s 4 Top Tips for How to Make Your Communication Impressive:
Tell tales: Make sure to include anecdotes. People respond to story telling; it’s one of the essential modes of communication that connects with all of us. (Proof: Jerry Seinfeld!)
Take the right tone: The content of your speech is underscored and emphasized by the tone of your speech. If you drone on and on, what you have to say won’t matter, because no one will be listening. Or if you sound agitated, it won’t matter that the words of your presentation are intended to reassure your audience. In other words, your tone must adjust to the material.
Talk to people: Who is your audience? You must tailor your speech accordingly, whether you are addressing cynical potential investors or middle managers, who are eager to please. Regardless, be empathetic to the audience’s needs, and let them know you are aware of their needs.
Take time for set up: Make sure the circumstances surrounding your presentation are optimal. You’d be surprised how much more receptive people are to what you have to say when they are comfortable. The literal context of a speech can have an impact on how it is received. That could mean anything from a truly original power point presentation, to serving decent coffee, to giving members of your audience a package of relevant materials to take with them after the presentation. All of it implies a personalized approach.
My final word on how to create impressive communication is this: make it personal. Because people, after all, respond best to unique personalities and to engaging stories — not to someone spouting reams of dry facts and figures.
Do you have any questions about how to make your communication more impressive? Comment on the blog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.