To speak or not to speak, is that the question? After spending two days at SIME11 in Stockholm, I’ve been blown away by several speakers, confused by some and really pissed off by one or two. When you listen to a passionate and well-prepared speaker, words come to life in a special way and time might even stop for a while. Thank you Ola for being a great host during SIME11, guiding the speakers and audience through two great days in Stockholm! To present and keep your nerves in every possible situation is not an easy task.
There’s an old saying “Tell’em what you are going to tell’em, Tell it to them, and then Tell’em what you told them” (Dale Carnegie), coined well before the digital era. You might not want to take this literally, but there’s something in it that should not be forgotten; be prepared, stay focused and treat your audience to a key takeaway.
Some presentation coaches will tell you to open up with a joke or a personal comment. If you’re not comfortable with this or a really bad comedian, don’t try this at home. You don’t need to be funny or personal, you can open your speech with just a decent introduction (see no 2 below).
In short, what you always should do is:
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. And then prepare some more. Do you know your speech by heart? Is it relevant to the occasion and audience? Use cue cards if you need notes but avoid using your hands for anything else than being part of your story. (Tip: watch other speakers on- or offline to get inspiration)
2. On stage; always introduce yourself. Who are you, why are you here, what is the subject of the presentation?
3. Tell the story of your talk. Some people like to do this a linear way, some like to surprise the audience with the old “aha” in the end, some to start with the last slide. As long as you keep to your subject and speak in a steady and good voice you should be ok. If you are using PPT/Keynote, make sure that these are up to date and in line with the subject and audience.
4. Finish off with a key takeaway. Even the best speaker can have an inattentive audience, so signing off with a quote is always a good idea.
One of my favourite speakers at SIME11 was Rikard Steiber from Google, the intrenet entrepreneur Nicklas Zennström or maybe Christian Quarles. These are among the ones we will remember for a long time. Unfortunately, the speakers that did not take his/her time to do a proper introduction or talked faster than a racehorse runs or the ones who mumbled us into a cosy sleep, will also be remembered but for a whole other reason.
So, how would you like to be remembered, blogged or tweeted about? I think Pontus Schultz made a point “It’s better to be wrong in an interesting way, than right in a boring”.