Even a well framed and messaged presentation delivered in a monotonous and disinterested manner will be poorly received. Executives (and all presenters) have a bubble within which they are comfortable. It has been successful to get them to where they are today. However, I am often asked to help executives with strong technical backgrounds to make the step up to senior positions. This requires coming out of the comfort bubble which means overcoming deeply engrained habits. Common habits include being too softly-spoken, projecting a constant (often low) stream of energy and little variety in voice and energy throughout a presentation.
I don’t believe you need to be an extrovert to be a good presenter. Steve Jobs is regarded as one of world’s best business presenters without being a hyper-energetic speaker. However, regardless of your starting point, you do need variety in your presentation.
The most obvious is to bring enthusiasm for your subject. When you are enthusiastic, energy levels increase and this is very attractive to the audience. Think about how you talk about your hobbies to your friends. What gets your energy going? Talking about the sports results, mentioning your toddler’s latest developments or sharing your knowledge with others? A good resource for enthusiastic presentations can be found at TED Talks (www.ted.com). Pick a topic and notice how the passion of each speaker is very engaging.
Examples of Lifeforce:
Take your next presentation and after you have prepared all the content (including messages), practice delivering it out aloud a couple of times. When you feel you are starting to get familiar with the flow, take the opening one minute and deliver it as though it was the most boring topic in the world. Then, go straight into delivering the same one minute as though it is the most interesting topic to you. Record both rehearsals. Playback and observe the main differences in your delivery. Pace and intonation of your voice. Energy delivered. Which one would your audience prefer to listen to? Which one would be more engaging and persuasive?
Use your energy and lifeforce to put a sparkle into your presentation delivery. Variety is the key to keeping your audience engaged.