6 Tips for Giving a Great Presentation

Episode Transcript

Julia Landauer 0:04 Hello, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. I hope you've had a good week. So far, I have had a very hectic two weeks, it started in Charlotte. And then I was in New York, and then I was back in Charlotte. And then I was in Las Vegas, and then New Jersey, and then drove down to Charlotte with Ben. And if I may go on a tangent briefly, nine and a half hours on the road is rough. And throughout the entirety of the journey, I wish I could have air dropped episode 32 of if I'm honest, which is driving tips from a racecar driver, because some of these people on the road needed some help, especially when it came to moving over to the right lane. But anyway, I digress. The reason I was in Vegas the other week was because I was giving a keynote discussion, which was super fun. It was a smaller audience of 60 people it was in a conference room, I got to be very close and in the faces of the audience members. And after I gave the discussion, I started talking with a few of the attendees. And one of them made the point that she was really excited to see that I seem so comfortable on stage and that she has a harder time giving presentation. And I realized in that moment that public speaking is definitely a very polarizing experience. Some people you know, like myself, we get adrenaline, we get the excitement, we love the interactions with the audience, and other people have a really hard time. And I do want to make a little side note that I personally believe that giving a public discussion should be a little nerve wracking because you are bringing people together, you're getting up on stage, you're commanding an audience's attention, and you want it to be worthwhile for everyone. And so of course, you're going to be a little nervous and being nervous shows that you care about that. So don't let being nervous, make you feel like you're not going to do a good job. I get nervous before every keynote, I have to do deep breathing like it's totally normal. But anyway, I also think that everyone and anyone can be a really good public speaker with the right guidance and the right work and the right mindset. And I think that's something that's not discussed enough when thinking about giving presentations, or keynotes or whatever it is. And so I wanted to take this episode to share brief history of my journey as a keynote speaker and to give six tips that I have for how to give a really great presentation. For those of you who don't know, I stumbled into being a keynote speaker because I was asked to give a Stanford TEDx talk when I was a junior in college and fun story, I actually had to decline the invitation my junior year, because the weekend that the TEDxStanford event was happening was the same weekend as the live reunion filming for Survivor, which I was on that season. So I had to be in LA for that. But luckily, Stanford asked me again my senior year to give the talk. And they told me they wanted it to be about racing and being a woman in a male dominated space. And that was the prompt. So I got to do that. And then I left college with his very polished video of me, taking an audience through a narrative journey and making three points and delivering it well. And I knew that keynote speaking could be an actual career. And I knew that it would grant me the freedom and flexibility to continue pursuing racing and to be on the road a lot and to push sponsorship. So I made my first pitch to a women's leadership conference to be one of their speakers in 2015. And episode three of if I'm honest with Julia Landauer, is called Taylor Swift taught me to know my value. And I go through how I pitched myself for this conference and the very candid feedback I asked for. So that's really helpful if you're looking to pitch yourself and knowing your value. But I did that. And then since then, I have been developing keynote speaking career. I have been doing this for 10 years now and it involves constant and ongoing fine tuning. You know, as I experienced new things, I have new stories and experiences to share with an audience or sometimes they get tired of giving a certain story. Or sometimes I realized that I'm not doing a punchy enough job. Like even in Las Vegas, one of the points I made and one of the themes I discussed, I didn't feel like it really was a huge value add to the keynote. So I've decided that I'm not going to present it like that moving forward. So it's all about iterating and trying new things and, and constantly evolving as a speaker. And that's if you're doing it professionally, right. But I've been able to really learn a lot of cool tricks, tips, things that have made speaking a lot easier. And I want to share that with you guys. And I will preface this by saying that my keynotes typically fall under the motivational and inspirational umbrella. So I will come in and be relatable to most audiences. I talk about a lot of different life themes. And I do understand that a lot of people have to give a presentation that's more topic specific or more technical or educational, but my hope and expectation is that this advice will be applicable to other types of talks as well. Here are my six tips for how to give a great presentation. The most helpful tip that I learned for how to give a great presentation was to think of the presentation as having a conversation with the audience rather than giving a speech to an audience. And that means making eye contact with people it means reacting to the audience and to their reactions. It means bringing your personality on stage and welcoming your mannerisms and your speech patterns. This humanizes the whole experience for everyone. And it brings the speaker and the audience onto a more level playing field, which will resonate so much deeper with an audience. It also takes some pressure off, because we all know how to have a conversation. We're not necessarily saying we're an authority figure, but we're sharing our perspective and sharing our points or hoping to educate and a conversation is a great way to do that. The second tip that I have for how to give a great presentation, is to write out everything that you want to say and anchor your discussion in personal stories and experiences. I kid you not when I first got asked to give a 45 minute keynote, I had no idea how many stories I should tell or what the flow should be. Because I had never given a monologue for 45 minutes. My TEDx talk was three stories. It was supposed to be 12 minutes, but it ended up being eight minutes because I spoke really quickly because I was nervous. But I didn't have any idea. And so I talked with my client about what themes they wanted, and what their hope was for the discussion. And then I had to think about what stories make sense. What stories can I tell around taking ownership? What stories can I tell around perseverance? What stories can I tell about building relationships, and then I had to flesh out the stories and I had to make them relatable. And I think it's really important to stay away from generalizations or cliches. I think there's a misconception that if we say something, General, it'll be more relatable, like, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Right? Like, yeah, we all know that. But there's nothing really moving about that. Right? What was it that you went through? What were you feeling that was so challenging, but didn't quite kill you? You know, what was your thought process? How are you overcoming it? What did you decide to do? What was the consequence of what you chose? Telling these specific stories, really give some the audience something to reach on to. And it's always fine to bring in data or research or you know, other thing that's not your own as long as you give credit. But to be specific to be anecdotal, what I have found is that as a racecar driver, so few people know what it's like to go racecar driving my experiences, in terms of how I learned them are very niche and specific. But I share what the emotions are, I share what my thought process was, I share the little details about the environment or what I was thinking about. And that is what people relate to. And we have so much more in common with people than we have differences. And so if you're able to tell those specific stories that aren't generalizations that bring in some specific points, that's going to resonate so much deeper with your audience. The third tip that I have, which is somewhat related to the stories you're telling, is to be intentional about the narrative flow. And this was something that my speaking coach for TEDx Stanford Bronwyn Saglimbeli of Bronwyn communications, really drove home for me, she was sure to emphasize the importance of just like any story, any movie, any book, we need to have the the hook that gets the audience excited. And then we need to have a methodical progression of thoughts and discussions that easy for an audience to follow. And we need some drama, we need that pinnacle of Oh, know what's going to happen. And then we need the resolution and the finale that brings it all together. And so giving a keynote presentation, or any kind of presentation is a condensed version of that, you need to have those same points you need to be able to bring in the audience. And so thinking about how you do that, whether it's the specific story, you tell, whether it's the method in which you deliver the story, if it's your body language, if it's visuals that you use, really thinking about what makes a good story and bringing in those elements. I will bring your attention also to the transitions. I think it's really easy to have abrupt transitions if you're going from one thing to another. So when thinking about how you want to tell your story, what would allow you to have easy segues, what would allow you to kind of hold the audience's hands through the discussion so that they can follow along and that each next step of your presentation makes sense. The last point that I want to make about the narrative flow is that it's important to know who your audiences I mean this partially in turn Have demographics, ages, backgrounds, professions, professional levels, what they're at and accompany you know who the audience is. And then be intentional about how you deliver points, you know, you don't want to labor a point over and over again, just make your point and trust that the audience will know what you're trying to say. And that puts it on you to articulate it well. And if you do that your audience will understand. So give them the benefit of the doubt. The fourth tip that I have for how to give a great presentation revolves around the physical presentation slides themselves. So I'm a big believer in less is more. And I think that a presentation unless you have to go through very technical graphs or something, but if you're not doing that, the slides of a presentation should be there for a few reasons, one, to give your audience something to anchor on to, and something to reference to break up the flow and to help with with what you're saying. But then it's also there to help you know where you're going in your presentation. There are some people who can memorize everything, but that is not most of us. And so if we can use key words, or specific images, or photos from our own experiences that signal to us, okay, this is a story you're going to tell, then that helps, and it gives the audience something to look at, for example, while a lot of my keynote discussions are rude around specific themes that I label, my whole 10 to 15 minute introduction is not and so I know the flow of my introduction based on the photos that I use. And I know that when a certain picture of my car pops up, that's when I talk about x. And when a certain picture of me training pops up, that's when I talk about why. And so it helps me know where I'm going without having to reference notes. And this goes back to doing the thorough work of writing out everything you want to say so that you know the story ahead of time. The fifth tip for how to give a great presentation is so so important. And it is to practice out loud, a lot. I have been telling some of these stories for 10 years. And I still practice my full keynote through one to three times before any given keynote. Sometimes it's just not right, right. And sometimes I you know, switch up the order, I curate all my keynotes to be specifically what the client wants. And so it means reordering some of the stories, maybe it means driving home different points. And I practice all the time. And it's important because it's very different to walk through a keynote silently than it is to actually say it out loud. And to hear what it sounds like and to hear what it's like to go from one theme to another. And to know what it's like to stand up and to give the keynote instead of sitting down. If you're going to be wearing heels practice in the heel, so you know what it's like to walk around. If you get a distraction that pops up, continue doing your keynote, because you will have distractions from the audience at times. And so really practicing that, and making sure that you know exactly what you want to say, making sure that each section flows smoothly. And if it doesn't work on it, you don't have to be married to your first draft of a presentation. You know, I'll write out a new section for a keynote and a new theme. And I'll think that this is the best thing ever. And I'll write out my points and then I'll, you know, work it and then I'll get up and practice it. And I'll realize this is not punchy, or this is not carrying the same meaning or this doesn't flow very well. And it's okay and you move on and you try other stuff. I don't do this anymore. But something I did initially was I recorded myself when I was practicing. And I recorded both on video and just audio. When I recorded on video, it allowed me to see what my body language was doing. It allowed me to see what I was doing with my hands if I was doing anything fidgety. And I recorded on audio, to see if my story was compelling enough for me to want to keep listening to it. So all of these things can be really helpful. And I can't emphasize enough that you can never be too prepared for these things. And especially if you're changing up your discussions, practicing and making sure that you're proud of yourself, and you're happy with it. Because at the end of the day, it's a reflection of you. And I know that sounds like a lot of pressure. But if you if you put the work in, it should be doable. Now that I've put all this pressure on you, let me take some of this pressure off with my sixth tip, which is to remember that the audience does not know all of the points that you're going to be trying to make. And so they don't know what you will include what you won't include, they don't know what your flow is supposed to be like they don't know what stories are going to tell. Which means that if you make a mistake, you're the only person that knows. And it is really important to remember that and to remember that whatever you missed, or if you didn't make a point, it probably won't mess up your whole presentation. It's important to keep going they won't know and even if you make a mistake that's more obvious like if you stumble words or if you start talking about something then the wrong slide pops up. make a joke out of it. This last keynote when I was in Vegas, I thought I was going to open it up to q&a and I forgot that I had added a summary slide. And so I started saying, you know, I've been talking for a long time. Now I want to open it up to q&a. And I clicked the clicker. And I realized I have all my bullet points. I was like, Oh, wait, nevermind, I totally lied to you. I actually want to recap everything I just said. And then I'll open it up to q&a, and the audience chuckles And I show that I have personality. And we go through the summary. And then I open it up to q&a. So there's no problem if you just brush it off and move on. We are all human. Everyone in the audience wants you to do well, everyone in the audience wants to take something away from your discussion. Most people in the audience probably feel like they could not do what you were doing. And so remembering that we all are doing our best and that it's challenging, and that it's okay to make some mistakes. Just takes a lot of pressure off. And so I'd like to reiterate this point, even though I said earlier, not to reiterate points if your audience doesn't need it. But remember that your audience doesn't know what you're going to deliver. And so only you can make it obvious if you've forgotten something or made a mistake, and you can usually weave it in later. So, to go over the six tips for how to give a great presentation. The first is to think of it as a conversation rather than giving a speech. The second is to write out everything that you want to say and anchor your discussion and personal stories and experiences. The third is to be intentional about the narrative flow and the transitions. The fourth is to have simple presentations that help guide the audience but don't overwhelm the audience. The fifth is to practice a lot and you can never practice too much. And the sixth is to remember that the audience doesn't know what you're going to present so you can very easily move on from mistakes. Friends, that wraps up this episode, I hope that it was valuable to you. I hope that something here is something that you can take away for a future presentation. I would also love to know if you have tips for how to give a good presentation. I'm always trying to learn so feel free to send a DM or leave a review and comment. And if you liked this episode, I hope you'll share it with someone that you care about. I hope that you will rate the podcast and as always, thank you for letting me be honest with you and I look forward to seeing you next week.