I am going to ask very nicely that no one judge me. I have expressed my love of really horrible reality television a number of times, but today I’d like to share a secret shame with you. Toddlers & Tiaras is my favorite show to watch with my husband. Not because we’re taking notes on how to win against all these other glitzy pageant queens but because we like to play the “Is it appropriate” game. While we both have encountered outfits or parental decision making that makes us cringe on that show, there’s also something to be learned.
I know, I know – I sound like one of those clichéd mothers that puts their daughter in pageants to relive their own glory days, but tell the TLC crew it is so she can learn communication skills (these are often the women with the cringe-worthy parental decision making skills). Here’s the part where I need you not to judge me. These mothers who spend way too much money on bedazzled skirts and spray tans are gasp right. Being in front of judges is one of the greatest tests of your communication skills. Suddenly, all of your abilities are on display – can you walk without tripping? Can you smile? Can you make eye contact? Do you look like you know what you’re doing? Your audience, board members, presentation panel, or team is a lot like a panel of judges. So do what the toddlers do and remember “pretty feet” and these five tips.
- Eye Contact. Holding the audiences eye is important, but you don’t want to keep your focus only on the people who are front and center. Spread the love and constantly scan and make eye contact with as many people as you can, even the people in the back.
- Speaking Clearly. If I say “it’s because some people don’t have maps, everyone, like, such as” don’t deny that you don’t know what I’m talking about. Speaking clearly is one of the most important parts of your presentation. If you’re mumbling or speaking in circles your participants won’t learn anything from you. Speak up for the people in the back.
- Personality. Don’t be a dud! When you’re onstage in front of an audience, it’s imperative that you sparkle and stand out. You want to be remembered – and no, you don’t need the fake eyelashes and glitter, you just need to have a great time. Speak with cadence to your voice, don’t read off your PowerPoint slides, and always move around the stage.
- Dressing the Part. Sorry everyone, but how you look is very important up on stage. It’s a way for your audience to relate to you. You should know the kind of people who will be attending your conference. For example, the conferences I have been to have always been business casual, and the speakers dress on the same level.
- Confidence and Fun. The truth is that when you’re up in front of an audience it’s all about just having a good time. You need to enjoy yourself, be passionate about the topic you’re speaking about or what you’re doing on stage. If you don’t truly believe in what you’re saying, no one else will either.
The whole idea of making a presentation might seem overwhelming to you but I promise you, if a four year old wearing her body weight in sequins and fake hair can do it – so can you.