Category: Other Public Speaking Situations
Measure your passion
Passion needs to be used wisely in every presentation, including those for business. A business meeting isn’t always the place for an emotional plea, a funny story, a tearjerker fueled by passion.
Consider your audience. Find out what they want or need to hear. Consider the setting and the subject matter. Then write and present with enough but not too much passion.
Watch out for trashing subordinates whether they are present or not. You may be allowed to as the boss, but it’s not really a good tone to set in the office. It either embarrasses someone who is there or makes everybody think “I wonder what he’d say about me if I weren’t here.” Using respect is a great way to get everyone else treating each other with respect; it’s called leading by example and it can start with every communication to your team.
Be aware of your style
Remember the various styles we discussed in Writing a Presentation? You should be very aware of the style you’ll use in a business setting in particular. The right tone can help get the point across and the goal achieved, whether it’s to land the account or look good to the boss. The wrong tone can mess everything up.
For example, if you are trying to land a big new account, you might not want to use “The Ask”. It might sound needy and create the impression that you (and maybe your firm) are desperate.
Similarly, standing in front of prospective new clients and saying “We really need this account” is a great way to never get that account.
Conversely, if you come off sounding like an overconfident expert, you might come off a little cocky, which can also turn the audience off.
For example, in a recent “town hall” meeting, a State governor (who shall remain nameless so we don’t stoke any political fires) got up in front of the audience and proceeded with a straight face (interesting term) to tell them a long story about why he was the man for the job, including that he was “tough” and “capable” and uniquely qualified. Only problem was it wasn’t election time. He already had the job, so this type of language was unexpected by the audience and it came off to many as arrogant and self centered.
If there’s one thing in the business world people like in a presentation, it’s the speaker not being full of baloney or sounding like they’re trying to sell you something, even if they are.
The easiest way to be genuine is to mean what you say. This may sound oxymoronic but in the business world it’s easy to lose sight at times of what we believe, what we think we believe, and what we say just to get the “sale”. There’s probably no way to avoid ever saying something of which you’re not 100% in the business world, but you should still work hard to speak the truth.
Get to the point, wrap it up
All presentations need to be the right length, but when your audience has to listen to a lot of pitches, talks, presentations or speeches, keep in mind that shorter is often better. Try spending a day listening to speaker after speaker in “workshops” and you’ll know what we mean.
In other arenas a long speech can be welcome and enjoyable, but that’s rare for business. Consider what you NEED to tell the audience. Lay it out, write it, then read it and try to shorten it. Then repeat this process again.
Once you can’t shorten it any more you have probably found the right length.
Of course, make sure it’s long enough to meet some implied requirement. If you are being billed as the keynote speaker you probably shouldn’t speak for 4 minutes. If your boss wants a full report to the staff, you should probably err on the side of extra detail versus not enough.