Mastering your presence on stage comes down to a clear message. But the power of your message hinges on two other corners of a triangle; you the speaker, and your audience.
When all three points of this Message Mastery triangle are solid, then your next presentation will do what you dreamed it would. This guest post is brought to you by Cindy Skalicky, a lifelong afficionado on speaker strategy.
Cindy used to work cheerfully in a dank, dark basement library. When most other college students were sleeping in, she was analyzing speeches. She was on to something; identifying the strategies speakers used to persuade audiences.
That passion for coaching presentation skills was ignited during her years teaching undergraduate courses in public speaking, organizational and interpersonal communications. Developing strong storytelling skills became critical when she entered public relations.
Today, she coaches executives on TED talks, sales pitches, interviews and more.
Her message mastery process comes back to her acronym, SAM – speaker, audience, message.
This guest post starts with the “S for Speaker,” broken into 3 parts. Like a fractal, each part is shored up by 3 ideas.
1) Who Should The Speaker Be?
Sometimes a team needs to choose who will pitch, present, instruct, etc.
The speaker needs to be an expert at the material. S/he must know the presentation material backward and forward, inside out and all around.
This is not to be confused with being an ultra-expert who cannot see the big picture and might drag the audience into too much detail.
And of course, the speaker must bring Story. That’s how we get to know them.
The speaker chosen should be engaging! Likable. Even entertaining to a degree. Audiences keep listening when speakers are confident, smile, and approachable.
This goes along with being affable, but is more about the internal passion the speaker emanates without much effort. We’re going for natural but controllable excitement.
Speakers convey magnetism through their word choice, stories, and perhaps even most with their eyes.
2) What Does Every Speaker Inherently Bring?
We all have “speaker baggage”, things you need to remember not to do. It just depends on what yours is and how you handle it.
My advice? Do everything you can to check that baggage at the door. Most speakers bring…
This might be lack experience, a too-soft voice, meager confidence, too much tech-y talk, or trouble with fillers (ums, ahs). Tackle this with
- Intention to Improve, and
- Expert coaching if possible.
Turn this S into “Solid Storytelling.”
Anxiety on stage
Everyone has this to a degree (me too!). Frankly, some is healthy’; it means you care. We’re all some level of anxious, but we do not want that “A” to become “Afraid.” Turn this A into “Acting” and lean on “Adrenaline.”
It’s true. Talented speakers see their stage as a real stage. They up their game by using many of the same techniques actors do.
Fake it till you make it rings true (but doesn’t include being deceptive or “fake” as a person). It means fake being an excellent presenter and in doing so, you’ll become one.
Mistakes from the past
One bad public speaking experience can really stick with us. Some can’t shake the feeling that the audience is somehow “out to get them.”
The good news is, as we mature into adulthood, our audiences mature too. Turn this M into “Measurable Improvement.” Get a little better each time, recover well, and be forgiving of yourself.
3) What should the Speaker do once taking the floor?
Stand and Command
You are in control of the room. I repeat: You’re in control of the room, so take it. Be “the force” in the room. This requires finesse, lest you mis-step and take advantage of that control. Just remember, although you control the message, the audience has the final word on whether or not the speech is a success.
Audiences want you to win
They are on your side. It’s true! Not only that, but they want to understand your concept. Investors want to want to invest. They recognize it takes courage, time, and preparation to present ideas in a cohesive and interesting fashion.
Public speaking is hard work. Your audience knows, and even if you stumble, they want you to succeed. They are typically very forgiving.
Mix your verbals and non-verbals
Physically move toward the audience at the onset. Use pauses. Speak loud enough for everyone to hear. Engage with your eyes.
Remember that 70% of communication is non-verbal. What you wear, how you stand, how comfortable you appear, what you sound like – it’s all part of that triangle.
Notice that the onus is on you the speaker. So prepare! Rehearse! Tell a good story.
One of the aspects of public speaking I love most is that it pushes any and every kind of speaker, every time. Every situation is new. You cannot deliver the same talk twice, not ever.
Achieving presentation presence is a goal of all speakers, and with the rhetorical triangle on your side, it absolutely can be done.
If you’re getting on a stage today, may “the force” be with you!
About Cindy Skalicky
Cindy Skalicky, is the owner of On Point Communications, LLC and an accomplished speaker and coach. She works with speakers on storytelling techniques, speech writing, finessing presentation presence and overall content development. She helps presenters Master their Messages. Contact Cindy today.