A big ‘thank you’ to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. It was my pleasure and privilege to be asked to give a presentation skills workshop at a conference of their Atlantic Canada chapters in Nova Scotia.
What a remarkable organization, driven by passion and fuelled by a burning desire to end violence against, and poverty among, women.
The Foundation is an umbrella group encompassing smaller local groups who are united in fighting for justice, equality and empowerment of women.
There was a very immediate and very practical reason for them wanting the presentation skills workshop. These wonderful women depend on donations – and they know that their donations can rise or fall, depending on how successfully they present their case to would-be donors.
Put simply, if you are involved with an organization that relies on donations, corporate or individual, you need to make great presentations.
I spent a great afternoon with the Foundation, sharing my TalkitOut Technique for upgrading presentations and speaking skills.
The women loved the simplicity of Talkitout, and the way it liberates your natural, authentic voice. With TalkitOut it’s much easier to create a speech or presentation, and it’s much easier to deliver a powerful message that really connects with the audience.
But with this group I was able to focus on a couple of other aspects of TalkitOut, to help them with their specific goal of persuading strangers to support this great cause:
1 – Know your audience: Who are they? What do they know about you already? What do they want to know? What’s the big question in their minds that your speech has to answer? What do they expect in terms of tone, language and style? Every speech you give has to be created with the audience firmly in your mind’s eye. No matter how good your cause, extracting donations from people is a competitive business. What do you need to say to this group to persuade them to open their wallets?
2 – Hook them in the first few seconds: work really hard on the opening few sentences of your presentation. Those first few words have to work harder than almost anything else you will say. They have to grab the audience’s attention; they have to engage them with the topic; they have to get people leaning towards you, rather than sitting back in their chairs.
- Stories are a great way of engaging audiences.
- Painting a vivid picture in the audience’s mind is a great way of starting.
- Amazing statistics can do the job for you.
- Your passion and energy can bring the audience to the edge of their seats.
Just remember that dull, rambling, unfocused, predictable openings make you feel uncomfortable, make audiences wonder why they made the effort to attend, and don’t serve your strategic purpose.
Halina St James takes the worry out of presentations with her Present Like a Pro video training course. It’s available now from the Podium Coaching online store, together with her popular TalkitOut: From Fears to Cheers e-book and workbook.