Give Them a Bit of You
There is a good reason that public speaking is a superior method of presenting material to a group than just faxing your text over and letting them read it. Yes, part of that reason is that by stepping through the talk, you can make sure they “get it”. But the most important reason has to do not with the subject, not with the presentation style and not even with how good the donuts were before the talk. The reason public speaking is so effective is that the audience gets the material presented in a very personal way by the one person who can do that – you.
When people walk away from your talk, they will remember one thing as their primary memory and another level as secondary. The secondary memory will be your subject matter. But the most potent memory they will carry with them will be that of you as a speaker. Public speaking is actually a very personal thing to your audience. That is because while to you, you are speaking one to many, to each audience member, you are talking to him or her directly. That bond is unspoken but strong. And it is even stronger when you address the same crowd regularly.
This may seem like an awesome responsibility but buried in this little fact about public speaking is a secret to make your presentations more effective. Instead of shying away from the fact that people will feel like they know you after you address them in a public, embrace that fact of life about speaking in public and use it to your advantage. The way to grab a hold on this powerful psychological principle is simply to give them more of you in every aspect of your talk.
You can start with your introduction. It’s easy to tell some joke you heard on the late night talk shows and then go right into your talk. But if you take a moment and speak to the person to person, you will create a stronger bond with them which will result in better results from your presentation. Take some time and reveal a little bit about yourself to this group. Public speaking can be a very cathartic event because when you open up to a group of people about your feelings and your past, they embrace you emotionally and that presentation becomes personal to them.
But don’t stop adding the personal touch with the introduction. Continue to look for ways to make the presentation personal throughout the talk. You no doubt know the power of illustrations, stories, and humor in any presentation. Well instead of using abstract or canned stories or jokes, personalize this aspect of your talk. Don’t just “tell a joke”. Instead, think of a personal story that has a humorous component to it and use that to illustrate the point. By using humor that makes fun of you, not only will the laughter be more genuine, it will ingratiate you to the crowd and create that connection between the personal speaker/audience bond to your subject matter.
The same is true of illustrations. Now there have been cases where speakers made up a personal story to fit the talk so that is done. And because it has the same effect, you could put that under the category of “acting” and not feel to bad about it. But if you use a real story from your own life, your childhood or your love life, that will ring true during your talk and be more believable to your audience.
Don’t be intimidated by putting some of your own heart and life into your public speaking. The investment of giving people a little more of you will result in a higher level of concentration and responses to your call to action. And the audience will emotionally bond to you in such a way that you will almost certainly be asked back to speak again and again.