written by Jan D'Arcy
During recent presentations, have you had to fight for attention from an audience texting messages or surfing the internet? Is it the fault of a “bad,” inattentive audience or are you still doing presentations the same way you did 3 years ago? Or even last month? Are you relying on the same presentation skills? Successful entertainers and speakers look closely at themselves and update the way they are communicating. Madonna has done it. Al Gore has done it. John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, has done it.
In this electronic age, speakers are definitely in the spotlight. You can refuse opportunities or welcome and take advantage of the new communication technologies.
Multiple platforms have emerged that all require different delivery skills. Business people have to gain exposure in these new media forms or they miss huge segments of potential customers and may lose the ones they have to a more savvy player. Have you thought about creating a podcast to reach a larger audience? It’s hard to catch up with the latest way to communicate and even harder still to excel on YouTube, blogtalk radio, or Netmeeting.
Years ago, you could take your time learning how to communicate via videoconferencing. Today, if you and your company aren’t conducting meetings via Telepresence, you can be viewed as out-of-touch. In Alice in Wonderland, the Red Queen rightly complains, “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place.”
Connecting with your audience regardless of the situation or medium is crucial to your presentation. You may be competing for a job, a contract, a promotion, or trying to gain more visibility for yourself, your products or services. Many clients tell me they lose their anxiety and nervous mannerisms a few minutes into a presentation or interview. A speaker doesn’t have that luxury today!
It’s imperative to swiftly grab and connect emotionally with audiences immediately. Those stumbling few seconds or a misspoken phrase can be your downfall. Worse yet, they can be looped again and again, damaging your online reputation long after it’s been deleted from Google’s index.
If you’re uncomfortable moving into these the new mediums, you can learn a lot from actors who have always been exposed to critics. One of my clients said he froze when he saw a superior in a video meeting and everything went downhill. ”Think like a theater actor,” I told him. ”They’re ecstatic when they spot an important reviewer in the crowd. This is visibility. This is a chance to be reviewed. This could be a dramatic advancement in their career and their bank account! They walk out on the stage prepared and excited to be the best they can possibly be.” It just takes a change in perception.
Even in volatile economic times, there are always individuals and companies that thrive and prosper. Your communication skills can be your most valuable asset.