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

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Step up to stand out – Why you need to speak at conferences?

Do you deal with rapid heartbeat and break into cold sweat at thought of having to speak at a public platform? If yes, then you are one of the many that experience speech anxiety. Based on research and articles, it is understood that people’s number one fear is supposed to public speaking, second is death? If you are one of those who would rather die than address a crowd, you sure are losing out on building your own personal brand. Yes, I know, you would rather face death than engage in public speaking. But hold on for a second. Take a deep breath. Hear me out on why it is so important and why you must consider it.

I am sure you won’t disagree with me when I say it is only when you are seen and heard that you are recognized. Steve Jobs. Guy Kawasaki. Jack Ma. Oprah Winfrey. Mark Zuckerberg. Jack Welch. As you read these names, I am certain you were also able to instantly recall the brands that they are synonymous with. The only reason you had no difficulty in associating the name against their respective brands is because these renowned personalities are iconic figures that are a brand name by themselves. They have not only dedicated their lives in creating a product/brand that is admired, but have also become a household name. Had they been apprehensive about communicating with the large audiences, they wouldn’t have been recognized as worldwide influencers. That’s a given. And these are just a few top honchos whose names I have mentioned.

While you innovate, and introduce the most cutting-edge products, it is important to spread the word out. Let your peers and stakeholders know. Always remember, YOU are your company’s strongest brand ambassador. No one else will be as vehement and vocal in advocating your brand. Be part of trade shows, conferences – network and expand your business connections, exhibit your solutions but more importantly, take the stage to educate the audience on your company’s offerings, USPs etc. The opportunity to address a gathering doesn’t come very often, but when it does, you need to make sure it makes a significant difference to your business.

As a speaker, you stand to gain maximum exposure, more than any other attendee at a conference. The innumerable networking opportunities are extremely beneficial to your business. Add to that the opportunity to interact with the audience at such forums to get feedback on your presentation/ case study that can lead to stimulating discussions and help bring in a fresh perspective.

The importance of delivering an impactful presentation doesn’t solely lie in the content, it is also the delivery that holds the deciding factor in being a good speaker. The content will be effective only if your delivery is powerful and engaging. The idea is to capture the audience attention and not let it waver. As you would know, enthusiasm is infectious, so express your enthusiasm to deliver a compelling presentation and make a sizeable impact on the audience.

The aim is to be eventually recognized as an industry expert – you need to speak from a position of knowledge. Knowledge is power. By sharing your knowledge and perspective to a diverse audience, you lay the foundation of being regarded as a thought leader. To keep your audience engaged, you must be mindful not to make a sales pitch. Instead, a case study or a product reference in your business presentation with insights about industry trends will pique their interest. Post the speaking sessions, participating in engaging discussion with the audience, and sharing more insights that will help them in their business operations, is the next important step in developing your reputation for being the role model/go-to-person for information pertaining to industry trends.

Of course, you don’t become an expert overnight. But once you set the ball rolling and are seen delivering compelling speeches that add value, you will be invited to be part of more conferences. The more often you speak, and address different audiences across regions, you are building your personal brand. Over a period, you will gain the recognition and reap the rewards that come from becoming an outstanding speaker.

To reinforce this, you need to ramp up your PR/visibility quotient – a topic that I’ll leave for another day! For now, all you need to remember is, developing your personal brand goes hand in hand with expanding your company’s presence too.

Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel – Ralph Waldo Emerson

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn