The Anatomy of a Great Presentation

What is a great presentation? As a hypnotherapist, NLP and hypnotherapy trainer, as a former top training administrator for 40,000 American soldiers, and as professional speaker, I have some very definite ideas of the structure of phenomenal presentations. I’ve studied many of the most inspirational speeches of the Western civilization and reviewed numerous talks by talented presenters who command $10,000 to $20,000 per keynote. What I’ve learned is contrary to most conventional thought.

The best speeches violate the mold which is typically taught to neophyte speakers. Back when Neil Armstrong was taking the “giant step for mankind” in 1969, my high school speech teacher told us that a good speech has three components: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Back in the late 1970′s we told our young officers and sergeants to “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them.” Even the U.S. Army got away from this A-B-C model in the late 1970′s. However, at Toastmasters meetings I still hear that the age-old model is still the best way. So, what is a great speech?

For this article I’m going to concentrate the format of the most inspirational speeches of our time. Regardless, to a great extent my comments will apply to all presentations.

If I was to train a new speaker, I would start out by them just standing in front of a class or audience without saying a word. There would be no need to remember a speech. The only goal would be to make eye contact every individual in the room. While doing this I would advise the “speaker” to just focus on what they felt inside. At this point the only intent is to establish CONTACT and CONNECTION with the audience.

Regarding connection, a speaker must be able to communicate with all learning styles. This includes the slower paced kinesthetic learner, who appreciates slower paced words, and low, below the waist hand gestures. People with this learning style are the first with whom I connect. Next, I speed up my speech slightly, forming every word precisely, and using hand gestures at a level between the waist and chest, I bring the auditory learners on board. And, lastly I will raise my voice, quicken my speech, and use higher gestures to bring those ultra-fast visual learners into the fold. (Visual learners make up about 75% of the U.S. population and almost 100% of corporate leaders.) During the rest of the speech, I will vary my tone, speaking pace, and the range of my gestures so that I continually oscillate between the ways with which people of the various learning styles prefer to be communicated. You’ll know if you have successfully connected by carefully noticing the physiology of the audience and if they seem to be focused on your every word.

The second major stage is developing EMPATHY. Even if your comments are intended to be rather biographical, the goal is to have each and every attendee to associate mentally into your story. When you talk about joy or misery, they are seeing it through your eyes, hearing through your ears, and feeling through your body. Essentially, they become one with you.

Believe it or not, the next stage is to ensure that your audience does not have a clue where you are going with your comments. Even if they are totally in synch with you, if they understand where you are going, you are on the road to giving a forgettable speech. They must not have a clear picture where you are going with your comments. By purposefully using confusion, ambiguity, and conscious overload, you reduce the influence of the “critical faculty” of the conscious mind and prepare the audience for the big message. At this point they are highly suggestible and are ready to be influenced at the deepest level of the mind. No, not everyone will appreciate this style. There will still be the 5 percent of the audience who will not feel comfortable with your departure from a predictable (and boring) presentation. Yet, as most adults over the age of 25 have fully developed frontal lobes behind their eyes, they generally get an enjoyable “ah-ha” experience when they finally figure it out for themselves. This self-discovery gives the more mature learners a pleasurable and unforgettable experience.

Well, I think that I just gave my punch line away. The next stage happens when they are on the verge of this self-discovery, with highly suggestible minds, and ready for you to make the most memorable statements of your talk. This is when you hear such things as “I have a dream”, “Give me liberty or death”, or “Ask not what your country can do for you.” Like planting a flower seed, without the right preparation of the audience, your desired intent will never blossom.

After this point, remember then to slow your speaking, lower your gestures, and lower your volume. You do not want to upstage your own crescendo. This is a time to reduce the audience’s stress and allow them to kinesthetically process your message. Let them down easy. You’ve just created a higher level of stress, now it is the time for leave them with an impression that you have made them feel changed but relaxed. If you ever want to be invited back, don’t leave them with their “fight and flight” mechanisms intact. You want to be seen as a stress-reliever.

I’m fully aware that this process may not exactly meet every presentation need. But, if you give an inspirational speech with any other formula, you should not be surprised by your lack of success. Nevertheless, the principles of contact, speaking to multiple learning styles, balancing ambiguity and revelation, going from creating tension and stress to becoming a soothing and relaxing presenter is universal to all great presentation.

The A-B-C formula that I was taught back in sixties is obsolete, yet still prevalent in many management and speakers instruction. While it has served its role at one time, I have presented a much more powerful formula that has been used to inspire nations and change lives.

Ways to Deliver an Engaging Presentation

Do you want to learn to be a better public speaker? Do you want to be able to give presentations that engage your audience?

To quickly recap, let us outline the three key components of public speaking:

  1. Message content
  2. Audience connection
  3. Message impact

Each of these three points will influence you as a presenter – the way that you come across to others. We previously discussed message impact and message content, which are the components influence the speech itself.

Then there is audience connection, which is influenced by the delivery of that written speech. Regardless of the size of the group or topic that you are presenting, you want to ensure that your speech is one that connects with the audience.

There are many different aspects of the speech that you need to consider. First, let us start with the delivery. Will you memorize your entire speech, make it up on the spot or somewhere in between?

The four methods of delivery are:

  • The Impromptu Speech
  • The Memorized Speech
  • The Manuscript Speech
  • The Extemporaneous Speech

However, a memorized speech is rarely recommended because it can become monotonous. The extemporaneous speech, otherwise known as a speech that is thoroughly planned out but not word for word, is usually the one most individuals favor.

Next comes the audience engagement. When you are giving a speech, you have a certain impact in mind. And the best way to convey this message is through emotion. What emotion do you want to evoke- sadness, happiness, or determination? Incorporating a short story or a narrative can help the audience connect to or picture the message. Stories, as well as jokes or visuals, are great tools to use.

Then, think about how interactive you want to be. This includes having a Q&A or a group exercise component, either at the end or throughout the speech. If used correctly, it can change the pace of your speech and re-energize the audience.

Now a key question- how do you know what delivery method to use? There is no clear right or wrong answer here. Each individual must find what works for him or her.

Think about times that you have given speeches and what seemed to work. Practice in front of people you trust and ask them for honest and constructive feedback. By running through different methods, you will find the best fit for you.

Go through all three of the components of public speaking before your next presentation and see the difference it makes!

5 Presents for Men That Are Out of the Box

With Christmas fast approaching, the age-old question of what to get your man also looms on the horizon. For many, this thought is met with an element of dread. After all, you managed the creativity thing last year, but this year? You thought that last year was scraping the barrel of ideas.

Considering that Christmas is meant to be a joyful season, what can you do to take the stress out? Think outside the box a little. Mens gifts don’t have to be your typical present after all, especially if you’ve been doing this year after year, and though you’re stuck in a rut would dearly love to give a meaningful gift. Break outside of the box a little and think what else would cause his face to light up when he sees it underneath the Christmas tree.

1. Hobbies

Considering your man’s hobbies will help to gauge what genre of Christmas present will be appropriate. Trains, planes, reading, golf or other sports, woodworking, games, collections (coins, stamps, sports cards, etc), astronomy, painting; these can all play a part in considering what gift he’ll appreciate. Consider also what hobbies he would love to do if he had the time or resources. How could you make that happen for him? Make sure it’s something that he would love doing, not that you’re trying to push him into!

2. Activities

Just because we traditionally wrap a present and put it under the tree to be enjoyed on Christmas day doesn’t mean we have to follow these traditions. Some of the best presents for men involve creating memories with your man that last far beyond Christmas Day. If he’s into thrill sports, give him a coupon to go skydiving. If he’d prefer to do something with a friend, organize a day to go for a bike ride or hike together – go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go and pack some of his favourite treats! What other activities would he enjoy but wouldn’t spend the money on himself?

3. Classes/Instruction Books

Is there something he’s always wanted to try out but never had the opportunity? Consider enrolling him in a community class for a skill he’s always wanted to learn or buying an instruction book with practical, hands on activities (thinking particularly of woodworking, landscaping, mechanics, etc). Perhaps buy him some of the tools he’ll need to get him jump started.

4. Wholesome entertainment

If he’s a bit of a family man, consider giving him a gift that the whole family will enjoy. This will give him something tangible, but it will also create memories for everyone to enjoy. Table games, movies (whether on disk or going to the movies), or outdoor games/sports are always a big hit.

5. Gizmos and gadgets

Rather than finding a useful gift, go for something just plain fun and quirky! There are plenty of gadgets around. A Google search will bring up relevant sites that will give some crazy gifts that are great for a laugh. There are plenty of prank golf gifts, card tricks, and just quirky household things. Your Christmas party will have a laugh, as well as your man!

With these five ideas for presents for men, Christmas shopping should be much less dreaded and may indeed turn into an enjoyable experience. Keep his interests in mind, and have fun searching out the perfect gifts for him!