Find Your Own Style
When I started speaking 10 years ago, I thought I needed to move around the stage like a dramatic actor in a Shakespeare play. I worried I wasn’t gregarious and animated enough. I wondered if I was boring because I didn’t like to swing my arms as I talked and walked around the room. My fear was that I wasn’t the person I imagined a good speaker should be. As I started to observe other speakers, I realized one critical thing—all speakers are different! The best speakers are the ones who recognize their talents, their style, and know what feels best for them. Why this is important is because your audience can tell when you are acting. Unless you’re one of the best actors out there, your talk will come off as inauthentic and boring because your audience won’t get a sense of who you are. Rather than have a missed opportunity to build a real connection with the people who came to see you speak, try the following strategies for finding your true presentation style.
1. Ask 30 people to describe you in three words
Do you ever wonder how the world sees you? You are probably already aware of what you think you’re good at, but what about everyone else? A great way to find out is by emailing 30 friends, co-workers, past bosses, teammates, and anyone else who knows you pretty well. Ask them one question: If you could describe me in three words, which three words would you pick? Create a spreadsheet and keep track of all the words. Put tick marks next to the words that keep showing up, and when you receive all your feedback, tally your answers. You’ll likely have a few standouts in the group. Those are the attributes that are strongest in you. Showcase them by using them as building blocks for your talk. When I did this exercise, the three words I heard most often were creative, thoughtful, and motivated. It made me ask myself, “How can I make this talk more creative?” Just thinking about creativity got me excited and made me want to build fun worksheets and incorporate costumes and props. By adding elements of your personality into your talk, you are showcasing who you truly are and giving your audience a glimpse into your mind, your perspective, and your heart.
2. Talk about what you like to talk about
If you want your presentation to shine, you need to talk about it in a way that gets you excited. As we talked about in lesson #1, if you pick topics and stories that exhibit your passion, you will create an exciting and engaging experience for your audience. If you present those topics and stories using your unique style, you are giving an even more compelling presentation, because it is showcasing YOU. This will be a process of trial and error, and you will eventually create an arsenal of favorite go-to stories you can use over and over again for your audiences. These stories will also become part of your personal brand and reputation as a speaker!
3. Showcase your gifts
What we’ve been talking about here over the last ten lessons is creating presentations that are memorable, engaging, moving—ones that get your audience to do something with your words. If you follow the tips offered and continue practicing and tweaking your work, you will arrive at a place that sounds like you and gives your audience the gift of your talents. Don’t be afraid to try new things, experiment with different approaches, and integrate new styles into your talks. Public speaking is a unique performance for each person, and it doesn’t need to be hard. Make it an adventure and your audience will thank you. Here is a brief overview of everything we’ve covered in this 10-day course:
Lesson #1: Talk about what gets you excited
If you want your audience to care, you have to care first!
Lesson #2: Who is sitting in your audience?
Learn as much as you can about who is sitting in front of you and craft something that appeals to their challenges, interests, fears, and goals.
Lesson #3: Ditch PowerPoint
Try using props and different visuals that surprise and engage your audience in new ways. Appeal to the child in all of us!
Lesson #4: Make it interactive
Getting your audience involved exponentially increases their interest and ability to retain your advice and ideas. Don’t forget they’re people too!
Lesson #5: What’s true for you?
Including personal stories and experiences creates a lasting connection with your audience.
Lesson #6: Improvise. And then improvise again.
Knowing how to switch up your presentation to meet the needs of the space, audience, and time allotment will give you better results every time.
Lesson #7: Use the 50% rule
Rather than overcrowd your talk with too much information, only use 50% of what you need and allow time for improvising, Q&A, and further engagement.
Lesson #8: Be funny
Adding humor to your talk in a way that works for your personality is a great way to increase likeability and interest.
Lesson #9: Learn the surprising value of worksheets
This old-fashioned tool is amazingly helpful if you make it fun and create interesting ways for your audience to engage with it.
Lesson #10: Find your own style
Bringing your personality and unique gifts to the table will enhance your presentation and give your audience a glimpse into who you really are.
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