Most leaders and managers are not natural presenters. When speaking to employees, keep these tricks of the trade in mind:
- Be clear about the goal for your message. Try to drive home one to three points at the most. Anything more won’t be memorable. You can support this by putting up a visual summary of the points you want them to remember.
- Connect with individuals. When President Obama gives a talk, he will focus on making eye contact with one person at a time. Rotate around the room and make sure to give your attendees a few moments of your time.
- Start by building consensus. Make statements that you can see people agreeing with. Once you have everybody nodding their heads in agreement, then you can tackle more difficult subjects.
- Give concrete examples. For example, instead of saying “Bob and his team have been doing a great job,” say “When Bob was able to push that project through on time despite all of the challenges his team faced, it was a big win for the company, resulting in a $100,000 on-time performance bonus.”
- Don’t rush when you talk. Silence is one of the greatest tools of a presenter. When you want to make a point sink in, give your audience time for this to happen. You can always add statements like, “Does that make sense?” to enhance the buy-in.
- Ask if there’s a “higher thought.” As the saying goes, “None of us are as smart as all of us.” If there is a better idea, you want to invite it so you know about it.
- Watch your body language. First of all, make sure you have good posture. Although you don’t want to appear stiff, avoid flailing arm or hand gestures.
- Solicit input from all attendees. If your goal is to get feedback at the meeting, make sure you solicit it from those who normally sit quietly. Don’t allow the conversation to be dominated by the few who always dominate the conversations.
- Finally, ask for feedback. If there’s no time to do so in the meeting, then make sure you follow up afterward. Ask folks what they got out of the presentation and what they intend to do with it. Then set up a time or other method to obtain additional feedback.
By using these speaking techniques, you can go a long way to improving your leadership presentations.