Giving a speech in a business environment, specifically to a group of senior managers, can be one of the most difficult speeches that any of us will ever be called on to give. However, even this type of speech can be done smoothly and will allow you to be seen as an effective communicator if only you take the time to follow the following suggestions.
Be A Speaker, Not A Reader
We all know how important a business presentation can be. We also know that exactly what words come tumbling out of our mouths can be critical to the outcome of our presentation – do we make our point, get the funding, or close the deal? That’s why it can be very tempting to write out what you want to say.
I fully understand the motivation behind this thinking. You don’t want to screw it up. You figure that if you can take the time to write out what you want to say in the quiet privacy of your office long before the actual presentation takes place, then you’ll be assured that when the time comes, you’ll say the right thing.
There is nothing wrong with this thinking. It’s just that the execution of it is going to kill you. Your audience is going to very quickly detect that you are reading a prepared speech to them. Once they realize this, there is a very good chance that they are going to tune you out.
There are a number of different reasons why this is going to happen. One of the most important is that your audience is going to realize that there is nothing unexpected that will be happening. Everything that you are going to be saying has already been laid out. In fact, very quickly they are going to start to wish that you had just sent your speech to them so that they could have read it and didn’t have to attend your presentation!
Instead of writing out your next business presentation, instead create a list of bullet points for you to refer to while you are giving your speech. This way you can be assured that you won’t forget to cover any important topics. Before you give the speech, rehearse what you are going to say using your list of bullet points. What you will discover is that the more you practice, the less often you’ll be referring to your list of bullets and the more natural your speech will sound.
So You Think That You Can Dance – I Don’t Care!
This is where things really start to get tricky. Every business speech that you give is going to be a high energy speech no matter if you want it to be so or not. What this means is that you are going to have a lot of adrenalin running through your body both before and during your speech.
There is no problem with any of this – it’s a natural part of being human. However, where you may start to run into problems is when all of this energy starts to sneak out of your body in ways that will start to distract your audience.
There are a lot of different was that this can start to happen. The one that is the most common is for you to start “dancing” while you are standing in front of your audience. You don’t mean to do this; it’s just that with all of that energy flowing through your system it is very hard not to move around a great deal. However, once you start to do this you’ll very quickly find that it distracts your audience and they’ll stop paying attention to you.
The key to preventing this from happening is to be aware of it. Realize that you are starting to “dance” and then stop doing it. I’d like to be able to tell you that this is all that it’s going to take to stop this, but it isn’t. What you’ll find is that the tendency to move around unnecessarily while you are speaking is very strong and you are always going to have to be double checking yourself to see if you’ve started to do it. However, once you are aware of it, it’s easy to stop.
What All Of This Means For You
Making a business presentation to a group of senior managers can be both a nerve racking and a career limiting event. You can do this successfully; however, in order to be successful you need to do the right things and not do the wrong things.
Your audience has shown up to hear you give a presentation. This means that they don’t want to hear you read from a prepare script – you should have just sent them your written out speech if this is what you are going to do. Instead, create bullet points in order to remember what you want to say and rehearse so that everything comes naturally. Also, make sure that you don’t dance while you are giving your presentation. This is easy to stop, but you have to be aware that you are doing it in the first place.
The ultimate goal of any speech that we give is to change the world in some way. Giving a business presentation to senior management allows us to make this happen if we take the time to do it correctly.
Question For You: How many bullet points do you think that you should have for a typical 30-minute speech?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I’m sure that we’d all like to live the life of a rock star. To be on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans who are using their listening skills to hang on to our every word is everyone’s dream. However, the harsh reality of life is that for most of us the majority of “stage time” that we’re going to get will occur in a business setting. What can we do to make those presentations as powerful as possible?