The Exceptional Presenter, Time Koegel, Presentation Academy

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Three Tips to Keep your Audience Engaged

By Tim Koegel

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September 27, 2007
Dear Tim,
 
The headline in a recent edition of Barron's stated:
 
Investors will hang on every word when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke addresses the Fed's Jackson Hole symposium at 10 a.m.
 
I found the headline amusing because in my book, The Exceptional Presenter, I wrote that unless you are the current Chairman of the Federal Reserve, people are not hanging on your every word.
 
If you are not the Chairman of the Fed you have to work very hard to keep drawing the attention of your audience back to you and your topic.
 
Here are three tips to keep your audience hanging on "almost" every word you say:
 
1) Do your homework.  Find out the interests, concerns and issues of the audience. If it's relevant, it's interesting.
 
2) Involve your audience early and often.  Use their names, ask them questions, elicit feedback.  Make their involvement a part of the presentation. 
 
3) Deliver your message with PASSION.  Passion creates enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm is contagious.  An energized audience tends to stay focused and involved.
 
Own the Room!  Do whatever it takes to make sure your audience stays engaged and leaves the meeting remembering your one, two or three key points.
 
As the 2008 Presidential campaign lumbers on, I'm reminded of a quote from Will Rogers:
 
"Our public men are speaking everyday on something, but they ain't saying anything."
                              
What does your audience see in the first 10-seconds of your presentation?
 
T-Rex in suit Your posture speaks volumes about your level of comfort, confidence and preparedness.
 
Avoid T-Rex.  Relax your hands.  Don't fidget with a pen, marker, clicker, notes...
 
If you have to carry notes with you, by all means do so.  When you're not looking at your notes, place them down at your side. 
 
Use your hands liberally to express yourself.  Don't flail.  Use well-defined gestures.  When your hands are not gesturing, drop them to your sides.  You will look more seasoned, relaxed and commanding.
 

Congratulations to long time client Deloitte 

 
Ranked #1 in the, "The 50 Best Places to Launch a Career," Business Week article of September 24, 2007.
 
The chart listing the 50 companies includes a column with the trait each company lists as Most Desirable for its new hires.  The most desirable trait for Deloitte new hires is.... drum roll please.... Communication Skills.
 
Communication Skills was listed as most desirable by several of the top 50 companies.  Leadership Skills also showed up frequently.  40% of the companies listed communication skills or leadership skills as their most desirable hiring trait.
 
Show me a great leader with poor communication skills and I'll show you an anomaly.
 
Exceptional presentation skills do not guarantee that you will win the job, the promotion or the proposal you're gunning for but you should NEVER lose that job,  promotion or proposal because your presentation skills were less than exceptional.
 
 


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