Even though it was a dark, dreary conference room, the speaker at the front stood like a beacon of light, attracting everyone towards him. In spite of the worn carpets, the smell of conference coffee and the dry, air-conditioned atmosphere, suddenly everyone in the 1,500-strong audience felt alive. Somehow, the speaker's presentation breathed life into the building and we all felt fantastic.
Yet, as I sat at the back of the room, I knew a secret; I knew that if the conference had been held a week earlier we would all have focused on the worn carpets, the dreary atmosphere and the lingering smell of coffee. A week earlier, that speaker Alan - would not have captured our hearts so well. You see, just one week earlier I had listened to him rehearse his presentation and it was, frankly, dire. Alan had asked me to review his presentation because he was nervous. He had never spoken to such a large audience before and he was concerned that he should get everything right. But almost everything was wrong. He simply read out his numerous slides, he mumbled and he fidgeted.
So, with just one week to go before his big day I told him to throw away his presentation. "You're being a slave to your slides," I told him. "Chuck them out and simply face the front and speak from your heart. Tell us your story," I said. So, we rehearsed again, this time with Alan simply standing in front of the room telling his story. At times, the excitement of some things captured his imagination and he delivered his information with the real passion he enjoyed. At other times, the sadness of some of the things he was talking about choked his voice and we shed a tear with him.
"Perfect," I said, "Don't do anything different. You are absolutely brilliant when you are being yourself." After the conference itself was over, Alan found me in the lobby and came to thank me. "That was the best piece of advice I've ever been given about making a presentation," he said. "If only I'd known years ago that the best way to make a presentation is to be yourself and speak from the heart I'd have never worried about public speaking."
One tip; one changed man. All I did was suggest he stopped trying to be a 'presenter' and carried on being himself. It changed Alan's entire presentation and the audience reaction. Far too many people think they need learn special techniques to be a great presenter. They don't; all you need to do to make a perfect presentation or a super speech is to be yourself and speak your true mind.
Graham Jones can help you make great presentations. He provides online courses in presentation skills and also provides information on how you can overcome the fear of public speaking. He also writes presentation tips free of charge.