You want to make a real connection with the audience? There are many ways to do so. There are also many ways to kill it.
We're going to focus on getting rid of the connection killers.
I don’t wanna cringe after watching a presentation anymore. I dream of a world where everyone gets up on stage and proudly delivers their message as their unique selves.
The theme you will notice throughout this post is authenticity. So, if one of these is actually “YOU,” then by all means, keep being yourself. If you have to exert effort to do them because they aren’t natural to you, avoid them like a radioactive enema.
Never let the audience catch you being insincere, because it will cost you a real connection. These 3 techniques will give you away like a free sample from Costco. Don’t adopt them.
1. Theatrical and pre-planned gestures
An overflow of pre-planned gestures, too theatrical, too over the top. Save that for broadway.
I can understand the concept of going bigger when there’s a larger audience, so that they can see you, but that’s about it.
The “right” way to gesture is a real concern for a lot of people.
I once helped a high school student prepare for an investor pitch. After watching a practice run of his presentation he asked me about gesturing. I could tell he was agonizing over it so I told him not to think about it, “just do what comes natural to you.” In other words, whatever he did during a normal conversation with his best friend, do that.
The following week he gave another run of his pitch and asked me to re-evaluate his gestures. I did. This time he looked like he was dancing the Macarena. Apparently he couldn’t resist thinking about them.
Luckily, we were able to iron them out before his final pitch.
It’s tempting to give gestures and other body language a huge piece of your mental resources, but don’t. Just be yourself. If there’s a larger audience where it’s difficult for them to see you from the back, amplify them.
2. Ridiculous descriptions
I can always tell when I hear a “public speaker.” They try too hard to set the scene with language that sounds like they are trying to create a “theatre” in the mind.
I get it. They want to give as many associations as possible so the audience remembers their points. However, there is a line, and you can cross it.
This one gets me so much that I had to record a video!
The problem is that they are so ridiculous that my brain struggles to make sense of them. By the time I'm able to form an image of their “scene,” they’ve moved on, and I’m stuck in “pine needle aroma whooshing down from the powdered heavens.” I’m telling you. The only thing I usually remember is how annoyed I was.
Use stronger words, yes, not fairytale language that requires a sensory translator.
3. FAKE emotion!
When sincerity is nowhere to be found, the fake cry is used to extort sympathy from the audience.
Get outta here with that!
If your story warrants that kind of emotion, let it do the work. If you’re truly overcome with emotional mist, which happens, that’s fine too. But keep your trumped up tears at home. I give a little demo below.
These traits will remove you from your body and all that will remain is a mechanical word slinger. You don’t want that, unless of course, you don’t want to make a connection with the audience.
The added benefit of not committing these sins is that you free your mind of unnecessary pressure. Less to think about. Less anxiety. Less focus toward the unimportant, which leaves you with more mental resources to dedicate to your message and the connection with your audience.
Remember, these are not meant to limit you---they're meant to preserve who you are. And it certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare. You should strive to give a hell of a presentation.
I only ask that YOU deliver it.
Share your thoughts in the comment section below. And if you disagree, let me have it!
About this guy...
Howdy! My name is Matt Kramer and I used to suffer excruciating death when speaking in front of a group, now I LOVE it. Overcoming this fear has changed my life. In less than a year since, I’ve started this website, Tactical Talks, competed and won 3 separate public speaking contests, wrote a book, and spoke at one of the top universities in southern California (SDSU).
And look, I’m not telling you this to “show off.” My purpose is to show you that it’s possible to start doing the things that YOU want to do. And that’s my goal. My focus is to help you overcome the fear of public speaking so you can build the confidence to go after what you want in life.