As you prepare a presentation, have you ever stopped to consider that what’s going on in the back of your mind is likely to have a big impact on its chance of being a success?
Pause a while, and pay direct attention to the objects you see on the continuous conveyor belt of your subconscious. Take them down and study them carefully They are rolling past at that precise moment for a precise purpose. Handle them, smell them, taste them, prise them open to reveal their constituent parts.
Interacting with them will help you to re-order your thoughts more productively or confirm that you were on the right lines all along.
More abstract thinkers might prefer a different analogy. They should pay direct attention to the credits or proofs scrolling constantly in the background of their life’s feature film. All words or algorithms on screen at any chosen moment are likely to trigger interconnections appropriate to the job in hand.
These mental exercises will make for presentations that are more tightly focussed, more closely argued and more relevant to the audience for whom they are intended.
But what about delivery? How can you make sure that what’s in your mind affects other people the way you want it to? For this you will have to undergo noisy and effortful physical training.
Take the presentation you have prepared, find a hidey-hole or some wide open space where you can practise unheard and unseen and play with it.
Speak it out as strongly and persuasively as you can using the style of as many different celebrities as you can think of. Parody attitudes and voices of those people. Parody their facial expressions, their way of sitting or standing: their way of being.
Preface each sentence with a phrase drawn from any period in history. “Yes we can.” “Beware the Ides of March.” ” Life’s a bitch!” “It’s the economy stupid.” “Life’s a ball.” “Curiouser and curiouser.” Use the mood behind the phrases you choose to set the mood of the way you will deliver your lines.
Sing the whole thing. Try it out in the style of your favourite singer and then in the style of the singer you most love to hate: someone in your audience is sure to prefer that performer’s style and you should know how to persuade them to your way of thinking.
Create your own idiosyncratic vocal tone but use the greatest volume you can find and range across the widest pitch levels you can muster. Use the different styles of any song writer you care to think of – from Gluck to Gershwin, The Beatles to Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce to Kelly Clarkson. Your voice is likely to crack from time to time. Don’t worry about it but just over-accentuate every consonant in every word as you sing on. Consonants anchor a voice.
Make your material sound as thunderous as you can. Then make it so confidential that listeners would be forced onto to the edge of their seats so as not to miss its slightest nuance.
Don’t practise for longer than twenty minutes at any one time. Allow a couple of hours to elapse between sessions. As with all physical exercise little and often will bring about the greatest progress.
The more you’re prepared to take yourself out of your comfort zone and allow the power of oratory to assert itself inside you, the more vocal assets you will amass. And the great thing is, that the confidence this physical training builds into the psyche of anyone ballsy enough to undertake it will last a life time
Make sure you put yourself through this personal wringer at least a couple of weeks before an actual presentation, because once you have decided on the vocal style and physical stance that best fits your subject matter you need time to rehearse it into your system and preview it for people who will give you honest feed back.
With practise, any presenter of truthful material who puts sufficient effort into gaining the power of oratory can change people’s minds. Those who do it best change people’s lives!