May 24, 2011


do you feel the enthusiasm?
According to Zig Ziglar, selling is a transfer of enthusiasm. Isn't that true for presenting too?

Let's assume you are enthusiastic. How do you transfer that feeling to your audience? Here are three tips.
  1. Setup the environment
  2. Be energetic
  3. Read the audience

Setup The Environment

You are the star. The organizers want you to succeed. They'll act on your (reasonable) requests. Just ask. In a recent session, the presenter's computer was on a table beside the podium and facing away from the screen. When she looked at the screen, she was facing a side wall instead of the audience. Not good, even with a microphone.

By arriving early, the presenter could have had the table moved to face the audience or moved the computer atop the podium (unless that conflicted with her speaking notes). Yes this would have caused some extra work but so what? The few minutes would have enhanced the experience. Instead, she looked like she didn't care and we reciprocated.

You also want to check the focus of the projector. If your content goes from edge to edge of the screen, some may get cut-off. Leaving borders around your content is a solution. Perhaps the zoom on the projector can be adjusted.

Be Energetic

This is especially a challenge in a large room with hundreds watching you. You look small. Your gestures shrink. Even when you're using a microphone and sound loud.

Your content and delivery are key. Video clips may help ... if relevant. Some presenters use low quality video that looks lousy when projected. That may work if the sound quality is good and you're showing something old like the first lunar landing.

The audience's energy gets amplified if you finish on time or even early.

Read The Audience

Misreading an audience is easy and one of the three permanent fears for presenters. If you're attentive, you'll know when your audience is engaged. Les Brown calls this listening to the listening. Are their eyes glued to you or wandering to their smartphones / watches / neighbours?

You're cheating your audience if you don't leave time for questions. That's your opportunity for interaction and magic.

If you don't want to hear from them, you're broadcasting. Why not record a video instead? You can split it into segments and post them online. That is probably more useful since the content can be reviewed anytime. This takes more preparation and you won't have an audience clapping at the end (unless you add an applause track). However, enthusiasm travels best when you present live.


PS Emerson said nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. Don't you agree?

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