Tips for delivering an effective presentation
Jeremy Donovan understands the transformative power of public speaking.
Once the former semi-conductor engineer started to lead industry discussions and train others, his career evolved into a more rewarding one.
“When you scream your passion, you attract opportunity,” says Donovan, the author of “How to Deliver a TED Talk: Secrets of the World's Most Inspiring Presentations” (McGraw Hill, 2013). The nonprofit TED – Technology, Entertainment, Design – started in 1984 as a way to challenge leaders to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less.
Donovan, of Stamford, Conn., says learning how to communicate a message effectively is crucial for workplace advancement, regardless of whether you actually give formal presentations. At the base is the process of selecting your topic, crafting your narrative, mastering your delivery and refining your design.
“You can also inspire people on a more personal level through conversations,” he adds.
Others take notice when you speak to a topic that you are passionate about. That becomes the first step in effective engagement. Find what moves you and talk about it.
“Your nerves subside. You automatically build persuasive arguments. Stories roll off your tongue,” Donovan says.
Here are Donovan’s other tips for developing the content for a presentation:
• Determine whether you will deliver a story-driven or premise-driven narrative. Story-driven narratives typically focus on a single story from beginning to end, when the argument is developed. This contrasts with a premise-driven narrative where the elements of the speaker’s argument are well-exposed throughout the talk.
• Touch your audiences’ hearts and minds with premise and proof. Use the three modes of persuasion – ethos (speaker credibility), pathos (emotion) and logos (logic) – in your communication.
• Limit what you include in your talk. One of the biggest mistakes of speakers is that they have too much content. When you edit your talk, ask yourself if each part of your speech either adds to your premises or adds to your proof.
• Draw stories worth telling from your personal experience. Don’t hammer people with facts. Every idea worth spreading must be packaged in a story worth telling. Every part of your speech – the opening, the body and the conclusion – offers an opportunity to tell that story, whether it’s a single drawn-out story or a sequence of vignettes.
• Give life to your characters with physical appearance and dialogue. By identifying with specific character traits, listeners imagine themselves and people they care about as the protagonists. Invite the audience into your story to relive it with you by reenacting characters and their reactions.
• Encapsulate your idea worth spreading in a viral catchphrase. These are between three and 12 words and they issue a clear call to action.
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