Jim Endicott’s keynote speech at the 2011 Presentation Summit was aptly named “We’re all presenters today!“
Jim did the afternoon keynote session on Tuesday, September 20th. He started with his experiences as a presentation coach after he quit InFocus Systems in 1998. He then started Distinction Communication, as a presentation design firm. Jim soon discovered that even the best slides do not necessarily result in successful presentations. So he added messaging support for his clients so that they were equipped with a proper message along with their slides. That worked well to some extent, but there was one missing facet — the storyteller, the flesh and blood conduit for the message.
Jim then spoke about his work experiences — one day, his company may be coaching a Fortune 50 senior executive — the next week their customers may be a mixed group of product designers, legal counsels, or other professionals. Yet all busy people know that it is so difficult to be heard these days, because it is extremely challenging to compete for the time and attention of very busy people.
Here are some thoughts from Jim:
- The world is not full of amazing presenters, but full of average presenters delivering messages in a very average way. The important part though is how you want to be perceived as a presenter.
- Begin with the end in mind. Imagine you delivered an important presentation — what do you want the audience to think or say about you? Captivating? Charismatic? Valuable? Engaging? Genuine? The fact is that no presenter wants to be average or mediocre. Everyone wants to be heard!
- That brings us to where perception meets reality. Most business presenters rate themselves as effective communicators — in fact in a recent survey, the number was 86%. The same question was posed to the audiences, and only 17% agreed with the presenters! We thus don’t have a presentation problem, but a perception problem. We need to see ourselves the same way others do if we are to get better.
- This session is not about meeting Mr. Wonderful, who maximizes his personal authenticity. Jim actually bought along a toy who acted as Mr. Wonderful! Almost like a politician, who acts too perfect and we cannot relate to him or her.
Jim thereafter started a coaching exercise with two volunteers. The first volunteer introduced himself, and Jim videotaped him — he did a good job. The second volunteer then did the same, and she was videotaped too. She was good too. Both spoke about their jobs.
Jim spoke about his company’s training model:
- Eyes: The first thing they observe is the eyes, what is going on with the eyes, and the presenter’s eye contact skills.
- Hands: The second piece of the model is what is happening with the presenter’s hands. Do they get stuck in a place; are they always within the pockets? When hands get stuck, there are no good gestures happening, and the presenter sends the message of being nervous and tentative.
- Movement: The third part of the model is movement. Presenters need to bring energy to their presentations, but that’s hard to achieve if we stay in just one place. We also don’t want too much movement. How do we find a balance and make it look natural?
- Voice: Voice is very important. Are we hearing passion? Is the talk energetic, or is it just mild and monotone?
Getting back to hands, Jim showed a cool video clip and then made the audience do some hand exercises.
He then asked that a presenter should look at every presentation as a one-to-one medium. If you feel nervous, meet some people before the presentation — a few faces will look familiar. These few people will then act as pullers that will keep you glued to your audience.
The two volunteers then acted on using pullers in the audience effectively.
He then asked the audience to practice some gestures for situations such as gathering information, combatting roadblocks, and getting two teams together.
He then spoke of the power of the pause, vocal pacing and variety. Put punctuation in your speech, add exclamations, pauses, etc. Added vocal emphasis along with better eye contact and natural movement were the skills that helped average presenters become exceptional.
The volunteers’ videotapes were then shown to the audience and clear differences were visible just by using pullers with better eye contact.