The Power of Words: How to engage your audience when presenting at a Conference

Have you heard people say, good speakers are born, not made? Well, I am here to tell you that it is a myth. No one is born a good speaker – you develop certain skill sets that make you a good speaker and you further hone those skills with experience. You were not born with a stellar command of your language, you developed it over time. Similarly, you become an inspiring speaker over a period. Good public speaking skills will only boost your confidence, make you more eloquent and ultimately help you advance in your career.

Can you remember an instance when you tried to wriggle yourself out of a situation, because you were nominated to present on behalf of your team and you preferred to be a spectator and let some other team member enjoy the limelight, only because you have stage fright? To you, I say, anyone can become a public speaker. There is no ONE essential requirement to be an exceptional speaker. It is a blend of many skill sets – inherent and acquired.

Content is king

You need to know everything about your content, and when I say everything, I mean E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are fumbling for answers because you didn’t think your audience would ask questions about it. A humble request, please don’t be one of those who have someone else create their presentation for them and then deliver it in a robotic manner, because that will not get you anywhere. When you are on stage, you need to develop a rapport with your audience; they should be clued in to your presentation and not lose interest midway.

Remember to keep your audience engaged. Use analogies and metaphors. Deliver insightful content in a crisp manner – a combination of textual and visual content is a more persuasive method than wholly verbal presentations. The power of visual content in a presentation is undeniable. I have seen speakers present to an audience of 300 or more in a room and not lose their audience interest even once. This brings me to the second most important requirement, voice modulation.

It is not what you say, but how you say it

The importance of pitch and tone while communicating is crucial. Using an aggressive tone can give an altogether different impression. Have you ever been in a situation when you were in a discussion with friends/ colleagues and you have miffed them with your point of view. More often than not, people are receptive to different ideas and perceptions, but it is the tone of voice that makes the difference. Use your voice to create an impact. Finding the right tone, volume and tempo are crucial factors in delivering a powerful speech/ presentation. A monotone pitch would indicate that you are quite unenthusiastic. Have a clear voice. Find the right timing to pause between sentences and most importantly modulate your tone depending on the text you are presenting. Once you have mastered this as well, the next crucial factor that you need to bear in mind is non-verbal communication.

Passion changes everything

All those public speakers who are popular and considered the best are the ones who engage with their audiences. To be able to connect with your audiences isn’t as difficult as you think it to be. The key is to be passionate about your topic. Speakers are also known to use hand gestures in enhancing presentations – the general rule is that your confidence is directly proportional to the way your ‘hands talk’ as you present. Excitement and passion are infectious. Your confidence and positive energy will also reflect in your body language; walk across the stage and don’t be limited to standing in one spot. Let your audience feel the vibe.

If you want to enter the niche category of becoming a powerful orator and an inspiring speaker, there is one thing you need to do. Practice. Practice. Practice. You can never be over prepared. Invest in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.

Remember, good speakers are made and not born! All the great speakers were bad speakers at first. Les Brown once said, ‘You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great’, so what are you waiting for – get going! ­

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn


Middle East Ready for Energy-Efficient Lighting

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Gerald Strickland, Director, Middle East Lighting Association delivering a presentation at the Middle East Smart Lighting and Energy Summit 2016 edition

Energy consumption in the Middle East is among the highest in the world and still increasing, leading to higher carbon emissions per capita than the world average. In the region, lighting accounts for 22 per cent of energy use compared to a global figure of 19 per cent, so the opportunity to increase lighting efficiency is huge.

Despite relatively low oil prices and challenging market conditions, the Middle East market is upbeat for LED technology and systems as it is expected to remain buoyant as private investments continue and government investment stabilizes. Members of the Middle East Lighting Association (MELA) believe that part of the answer to addressing this challenge is to be found increasingly in supporting Governments in the region in their efforts to restrict demand for least-efficient lighting products and systems and to promote “ledification” and supply of intelligent lighting solutions that will allow cities, businesses and individuals to both personalize their lighting solutions and save energy and funds at the same time.

In 2015-2016 across the region MELA members have seen a huge increase in interest for intelligent lighting solutions from office building owners, hotels and governments alike. This is a welcome change, and it shows that customers of our member companies now largely understand the impact of lighting on their energy footprint and the possibilities offered by other building management benefits delivered by intelligent lighting solutions.

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The speed of change from conventional lighting components to energy efficient LED has been faster than predicted as most countries in the region quickly adopt new lighting technologies for high profile projects. Controls are the next disruptive technology and itis in addition to LEDs that controls appear to be making a big difference. Currently, however, it appears government bodies and municipalities across the region do not have the necessary liquidity and this has a knock-on effect on the value chain, leading to project delays or cancellations. For public and private companies, there are also big opportunities but the sticking point also appears to be the initial capital cost. Fortunately, this situation had stimulated discussions about financing, and one can start to see the emergence of performance contract management in the region, a relatively new trend and service.

In general, MELA sees a long term trend of strong demand for lighting and controls as governments increase their spending on infrastructure such as roads, schools, homes and hospitals. Added to this, the growth in overall population in many countries in the region and positive demand for more intelligent lighting solutions can be seen in the long term.

Lighting market outlooks

According to reports by International Expo Consults “the LED market will witness a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 per cent from 2015 through 2022 in the Middle East and Africa region (MEA).” In the same study, the lighting industry in the MEA region was valued at $2.35 billion in 2015. This growth is set to be augmented by other countries in the GCC region that also aim to adopt LED lighting in many industrial, commercial and retail sectors as an efficient and cost saving alternative.

According to a recent study by Transparency Market Research, a global market intelligence firm, the Saudi Arabia electrical market was worth US$4.5bn in 2014 and is anticipated to reach a value of US$10.8bn by the end of 2023 expanding at a CAGR of 10.4% from 2015 to 2023. The lighting control systems segment is projected to grow at a fast pace, exhibiting a significant 14.30% CAGR between 2015 and 2023, thanks to the rapid urbanization in this region. According to the report, the LED lighting technology segment in Saudi Arabia is anticipated to register a 23.60% CAGR between 2015 and 2023 due to the growing demand for efficient lighting systems in this region.

This level of ambition and intent demonstrated by regulators in the region fits well with MELA’s principle objective to represent the interests of the leading lighting product manufacturers, in their support to legislators across the Middle East region in drafting and implementing policy (standards and regulations) for lighting related products and services.

Harmonizing Performance Standards

From a regional lighting-related policy perspective in 2016, regulators in the GCC appear to be in a phase of consolidation of regulatory initiatives targeting the lighting sector.  Indeed information revealed so far this year in discussions with various standards authorities in Gulf Cooperation Council members is that the GSO is attempting to harmonise lighting performance standards across the region. Lighting regulations adopted in ‘first mover countries’ such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are often forwarded to GSO for scrutiny and eventual adoption. The UAE’s pending Restriction of Hazardous Substances regulation is a potential candidate for this harmonization process.

In line with other countries around the globe,  national initiatives in the region aim to prohibit inefficient and low-quality light sources, control gear and  luminaires from entering the GCC markets and to set new criteria for manufacturers and marketers of lighting products. This is particularly the case in the KSA, where the registration period for products within the scope of the new residential lighting regulation has recently come to an end signalling the formal entry into force of Regulation 2870 and the start of the market surveillance/compliance effort managed by the Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO) in conjunction with regional customs authorities.

In the UAE discussions are underway regarding the update of the existing residential lighting regulation – Cabinet Decision Number 34. Indeed, Governments across the region are giving more attention to standards development and for MELA the priority is to offer the right expertise at the right time to support Governments in their efforts to get those standards right.

It appears that UAE is set to lead the LED marketplace in the Middle East due to the growth in the country’s large commercial establishments, entertainment sector and also investments in infrastructure development.

– by Gerald Strickland, Director, Middle East Lighting Association

Rising to greener heights

By Saeed Al Abbar

When tall buildings first emerged in the late 19th century in the USA to meet the growing demand for inner city office space, little did anyone imagine that nearly 8,000 miles to the East and over 120 years later, a small desert country, the United Arab Emirates, would boast the tallest skyline in the world.

In the Middle East, especially the UAE, the construction of tall and super tall structures is on a high growth trajectory. In fact, since 2009, UAE has been home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

As the Middle East continues to build skyscrapers, the earlier view of tall buildings as large scale energy consumers with little regard for sustainable architecture is now rapidly changing. The new generation of tall buildings are being designed with energy conservation and sustainability as their principal criteria.

The UAE has made significant strides since 2006 to drive the green building agenda with numerous ground breaking frameworks and programmes being implemented by the public sector. Emirates Green Building Council, an independent forum promoting sustainability, has been leading discussions on identifying solutions for existing buildings to become sustainable while ensuring that new ones are designed with ‘green building’ features.

The focus on sustainable built environments reflects His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai’s initiative for a ‘green economy for sustainable development’.

All tall building stakeholders need to look closely at the important aspects of implementing new technologies and features. We need these credible measures by developers to incorporate green building practices to contribute to the green vision of the nation.

 – Saeed Al Abbar is the Chairman of Emirates Green Building Council