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Improve Your Presentation – Be Sincere


If you haven’t seen the movie Up in the Air with George Clooney, there is one part of the film that they didn’t mention in the blurb describing the movie on Netflix.  In addition to firing people for a living, George Clooney’s character is also a “motivational speaker,” though his audiences didn’t seem highly motivated when the camera flashed to show them.  One reason he might not have been a good motivational speaker is that he didn’t believe in his message.

3 Things the Most Effective Speaker Do

I’ve often said the three things that make speakers effective is (1) they have great content – the information they deliver is meaningful and relevant to the audience (2) they have great delivery – they use their body and voice in ways that enhance their message and (3) they’re sincere – as you listen to them you know that they really believe in their message.  Sincerity is what George Clooney’s character was missing in the film.  He spoke about the importance of the people in our lives while he himself had purposefully kept himself isolated from others.  His message was incongruent with the life he was living.  The character wasn’t being sincere.

OK, so this was just a movie.  And George Clooney was only acting.  But have you ever seen a speaker who didn’t seem to be buying what he was selling?  Have you ever looked at a presenter and thought, “She should take her own advice”?   Has that speaker ever been you?

One of the reasons people get nervous about speaking in front of a group is the idea that people are judging them.  And while I truly believe audiences want us to succeed, I also know that audiences are judging us when we speak.  So one way to make sure that we’re being effective is to be sincere with our message.

Be Yourself

Many sales organizations have a standard script that they require their sales staff to use in their sales process.  I get that.  Having a script makes the sales process more predictable than haphazard, off-the-cuff, sales pitches.  But unless you as the sales person can make that script “your own,” you won’t have the success that you could.  If you don’t believe in what you’re saying, that shows through to your prospect and audience.

When you are delivery a presentation, be your best self.  If you don’t believe in what you’re saying, DON’T SAY IT.  Either find another way to talk about the subject that you do believe or start looking for another job.  You’re not doing yourself or your employer any favors by being insincere in representing your organization.

Don’t Let Your Nerves Rob You of Your Sincerity

There are many reasons that some presenters come off as insincere, even when they do believe the words they are saying.  Most of those reasons for the incongruence stem from the nervousness that comes from speaking in front of a group.  Here are some reasons and some tips to overcoming them.

Words and Body Language Doesn’t Match

If this woman below said to you, “I’m so excited to be hear.  I’ve looked forward to this day for weeks,” would you believe her?  Why?  Because her facial expression doesn’t match the words that she’s saying.

Of the five senses, sight is the sense we believe most.  When a speaker says one thing but either her facial expression, her vocal expression or her body language seem to be saying something else, the audience members are left trying to reconcile what they’re seeing with what they’re hearing.  And because we tend to trust our eyes more, audiences will on some level doubt the speaker’s sincerity.

Ensure Your Words and Your Delivery Match

Practice and record yourself on audio and video.  What do you see?  Are your expressions and your voice matching the words you speak?  Ask others to watch you present and ask them to give you the truth as to whether or not you are coming across in a way that is consistent with your message.  Don’t kid yourself.  If you’re not believing your message find a way in which you can, or move on.

Worrying about How You Are Being Judged

It’s natural to worry about how people are judging you when you speak.  Believe me, I know what it is to obsess over what people think about you!  But when you worry about what people are thinking about you when it comes to speaking, then it’s about you, and not about them – the audience.   The most effective presenters focus on their audience.

It’s All about Them (the Audience)

If you are selling a product that you sincerely believe will help the client’s condition, then focus on that message.  Talk about the things they care about and that are relevant to them.  Instead of obsessing over what they’re thinking about you, obsess over how you help that audience address their needs.   Make it about them.

Using Your “Speaker” Voice

Maybe we all love the guy who does the voice over for film trailers… “In a world where there can only be one winner…” (read that line in your deepest, most serious radio voice).  But no matter how much we might want a cool voice like that, no matter how much we might laugh at ourselves trying to imitate a voice like that, we’re not that guy.  (At least I don’t think that guy reads this blog.)  Putting on a pretentious “speaker” voice because we think that’s what we’re supposed to do, isn’t fooling anyone.  It actually comes across loud and clear as insincere.

Be Conversational

Instead of trying to be something you’re not, try to imagine the presentation as a conversation.  Speak as you would in your living room.  Yes, you should be more prepared.  Yes, you may need to speak louder to be heard and use bigger gestures to be seen.  But still, think of it as having a conversation with the people in the room.  If you are yourself in the presentation, if you match the person they see when you’re not in the front of the room, the audience will be more trusting of you message

Be Sincere

It can be nerve racking giving a presentation.  Focus on your audience.  Focus on what you believe. And you won’t leave your message up in the air.

Please say a prayer for the people of New Zealand – especially our friends Olivia Mitchell, Murray & Virginia Mann, and all their friends and families.