Sunday, July 19, 2015

Finding Your Presentation Voice

Having worked at 100+ agencies and trained or coached thousands of people in presentation skills, I have reached a conclusion that are plenty of different ways to a great presentation and just as many ways to do a poor presentation.  While this may seem counterintuitive, my point is that there is no one way to do it.

The problem is that when well-meaning people try to help others with their presentation skills, the end result is advice that basically says “do it just like me and you will be great.”  This creates many unintended consequences like having a group of people that all look the same or having many presenters that simply look out of sorts, trying to be something that they are not.

Everyone needs to find their own speaking style.  One that allows their natural personality to come through and accentuates their strengths.  For some, this style might be more measured and thoughtful.  That does not give that thoughtful presenter permission to be a sleepy presenter but it does give them permission not to be overly boisterous. 

Other presenters will naturally be more high energy.  They are the jolt of caffeine that interjects new life into the presentation. 

Just think for a moment what it would be like if everyone was the jolt of caffeine.  That would be a very difficult presentation to sit through.  Just like all clients sitting across the table from you are not alike, your pitch team should have similar diversity in their presentation styles.

While I am more than happy to give people a great deal of latitude in finding their presentation voice.  That does not mean that there are not some rules.  No ummmming and ahhhhhing your way through a presentation. No low energy presentations to the point of sleepiness.  No reading from notes.  Put the laser pointer down…you look ridiculous.  I could go on with the list but you get the idea.

Work to find your own voice.  Don’t try to mimic someone else’s voice.  It is fine to learn from watching others present but don’t abandon your own style in an effort to present like someone else.  Even if they are your boss;-)

Mark Schnurman
President --
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