Ron Aldridge is a successful theatre director, writer and actor who uses his experience on the stage to help people to become ‘complete’ performers, whether speaking in public, presenting, or selling — at conferences, in the workplace and in the boardroom.
In this guest post he lets us into some theatrical secrets to improve your presentations.
A huge part of my work as a theatre director is to ensure that the performers I work with attain appropriate levels of ‘inner-confidence’.
The skills, principles and disciplines used by the professional performer to move, convince, inspire or entertain are all transferable – and have direct and powerful applications in the worlds of business, politics, education and organisations in general.
Like professional performers, when we give presentations, is essential that we are confident, energetic, empathetic, inspirational, credible and authentic.
Here are 6 tips to help you get started … And, when it comes to giving presentations, always bear in mind that:
65% is non-verbal
20% is the way we say something
15% is the actual words we use
Of course it’s important to spend time deciding what you are going to say, but please always remember the other 85%!
1. Preparation is everything! Most people rehearse until they get something right. Professionals rehearse until they can’t get it wrong. Performing is the reproducing of what’s been rehearsed. You must know exactly why you’re standing up, what you are going to say, what you think and feel about what you are going to say, how you are going to say it, and what you want your audience to feel when you’ve finished.
2. Also determine your passionate purpose. What is it you are there to do … inspire, excite, entertain, motivate, educate, inform or move us? All this essential work is achieved through your preparation. You cannot be over-prepared, but you can easily be under-prepared.
3. Pace and timing. Consider the issue of pace when rehearsing. Rehearse at the pace you wish to perform at – the most common fault is to talk too quickly, which can lead to confusion within your audience. Talking too slowly can also be a problem, your audience could lose interest – care must be taken. Pausing for too long is not helpful either. Think of the pause as a musical interlude – timing is vital. Pause for too long or too little, and you lose the rhythm, and also your connection’ with the audience.
4. Inflection. To help maintain positivity when speaking in front of others, try to avoid using a falling or downward inflection. The falling inflection at the end of a sentence signifies finality, conclusion, ‘end of discussion’. It is important when speaking to keep channels of communication open at all times. Even if you’re asking a question the listener should feel ‘involved’ in the process. Either go straight through the end of the line with an even stress, or use a rising inflection. Either of these will subconsciously indicate to the listeners that you are ‘involving’ them.
5. Help to control pre-performance nerves by employing shallow breathing, not deep breathing. Imagine that you are very gently blowing out an imaginary candle. This helps to calm you and ensures you start at a point of control.
6. To help with tone of voice, understand that tone is directly related to emotion – how you think and feel. As an exercise, create your own story starting with the words; “You won’t believe what happened to me on the way to work this morning …” and your vocal tone will change as your emotions change. Speaking without emotion leads people to believe the delivery is monotone.