Top Tips to Get Your Message Heard

Top Tips to Get Your Message Heard

December 17, 2014

Great leaders are not always great communicators. Communication is something many of us need to continuously work on to be able to sharpen and improve our presentation skills.  Seek out opportunities to practice presenting in low stress situations to improve your chance of hitting a home run when it really counts. Clear communication is the foundation of a great relationship, whether it’s personal, professional, with your social media following, or with your audience when you’re giving a talk or presentation – there’s no question that practicing and mastering the skills of communication will help you in many aspects of your life.

When it comes to presentations, communicating your message in a clear and concise manner, so that all participants could walk away and give a brief and similar synopsis of what you spoke about is a presenters dream. If participants would act on your message, that would be even better. Focusing on the former, here are some tips, or rules, from Stan Phelps, a Forbes.com contributor in his slideshow “21 Rules to Help You Rock Your Next Presentation.”

  • Preparation is key: time spent should fit into three categories. 1/3 collecting, organizing and sketching, 1/3 building the slides and 1/3 rehearsing
  • Use images in your slideshow. People remember only ten percent of words versus 65 percent of images.
  • Minimum font size 30, max words to a slide 16.
  • Finish with a boom! Don’t finish with a question and answer session. Take questions and then finish with a memorable and relevant story that summarizes your goal.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. Things happen so practice without your slides.
  • Take breaks, the brain can only concentrate for 10 minutes before shutting off, so plan breaks – use videos, role play, group exercises, etc.
  • Dress the part, or the role you aspire to... fake it until you make it! Looking good is over half of the battle of winning over your audience. And if you look good, you’ll feel good to.
  • Just like in any consulting meeting, find out the goals of your audience and gear your talk towards what you know is important to them.
  • Use your hands; don’t keep them in your pockets or folded across your chest. Gestures are key, use your hands to emphasize points and don’t be afraid to go big – the unexpected will make your talk more memorable.
  • When you make a point of emphasis, pause and let your audience have a chance to process it. This also gives you a chance to gather your thoughts and breathe.
  • There is always room for improvement and always room to learn. So don’t beat yourself up if your presentation didn’t entirely go your way.
  • Lastly, S.T.O.P., a method coined by Andrew Gilman. What does it stand for? Single Thought One Person. You deliver a single thought to one person. You then think of your next thought while finding a new person in the audience. You are not allowed to start delivering the thought until you establish eye contact. What are the benefits? You will eliminate filler words like “um” and “ya know” which can be very distracting to the audience. You are able to breathe which is calming and well, necessary! And lastly, with more practice, this tactic allows you to create flow and tempo, which will keep the audience interested. STOP might feel awkward at first, but you’ll soon notice the benefits it has to delivering your message and being an effective communicator.

As with anything you do, presentations, public speaking, and communicating effectively takes practice. Seek out opportunities to practice and hone your communication style, so your shoppers, peers or managers will walk away from a conversation with you and be clear on your goals or the next steps they need to take.

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