When you’re presenting in front of an audience or on camera, you often forget to be yourself.
Nerves take over.
The base survival instincts kick in. You want to get through the presentation one way or another, hit all your points and make sure you don’t sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Over time, you learn how to hit the basics despite the nerves. You learn how to appear confident and capable under pressure.
But what’s missing?
What sets a competent speaker apart from an outstanding one?
You don’t want people to say “I just attended a presentation on how to bring in more sales”.
You want them to say: “I just attended a presentation by Jane! She’s amazing. She talked about how we could bring in more sales. It was info-packed. Here, I’ll give you her email, she can tell you more about it”.
Standing out as a speaker is an investment in your personal brand. The more memorable you are when you present, the more in-demand you’ll be, regardless of your role in the company or your industry. It gets you more recognition, more opportunities and more freedom.
And with that long preamble, here’s the actionable tip today:
Craft your on-stage persona as a select, amplified version of your “real life” personality
Every speaker should be confident, concise and clear – those are the golden basics to hit every time. An on-stage persona then “wraps around” and fleshes out those basic qualities.
Creating an on-stage persona humanizes you. It’s not about coming up with something fake. It’s creating a way for the audience to get to know you and connect with you when you’re on that stage, or on camera.
Start working on your on-screen persona through these simple steps:
🔥 Are you a serious person in general, at work or with your friends and family? Or do you joke around? Do people seek you out for insights and advice, or for entertainment and having a good time? And are you happy with amplifying any of those characteristics and bringing them into your presentation?
🔥 Take a personality trait that you’d like to amplify (whether it’s building upon something that people already know you for, or going against their perception and wanting to show a different side of yourself). Examine your content with fresh eyes and see if you can rephrase or revise it, infusing it with that personality trait.
🔥 Do you have an interest that could be relatable for your audience? Maybe you love food, and you can bring in some food metaphors into your next presentation (it’s a universal connector!). I used a “spaghetti wall test” reference in my TEDx talk that became an audience favorite.
🔥 Three points in any presentation where you can insert personality easily are: the intro, the audience engagement and the conclusion. Take a look at each of those segments of your presentation or content: for example, is your intro something that ANYONE could say when they’re introducing the topic? If so, try to change it to make it your own.
🔥 Examine your stories. Everyone has a collection of stories about who they are, what they do, where they come from and where they want to go. Take time to think through your core stories and try to insert part of a story into every speaking opportunity you get. You want people to be able to associate you with these key stories, so that they remember you better. Matt whose parents had a bakery where he spent his early childhood learning how the moisture in the air affects how well the bread will rise is more memorable than Matt from accounting.
The idea is not to detract from your content. It’s actually the complete opposite.
Great stories, strong openers and delivering with personality enhance your content. They compel the audience to sit up and pay attention.
Of course you need to make the joke or the story connect with your content. You need to make sure the attention grabbing intro about how you connected the dots about life, the universe and everything while eating your morning bagel is relevant to Q3 sales targets.
Each presentation, talk and video is an opportunity to add to the personal brand that you’re creating for your peers, management and clients.
Just focusing on delivering the content without focusing on communicating with your personality is doing yourself and your audience a disservice.
PS – I have an exciting announcement this week: I’ve launched the Speak as a Leader podcast where you learn how to speak fearlessly on stage, on camera and in person. Every week, I talk to leaders from corporate giants like Amazon and Google, to startup founders, visionaries, TEDx speakers and even leaders who have worked at the Pentagon. We talk about how speaking in public has impacted their professional lives, their confidence and how they’ve built a public persona.
This week, I talk to the very outspoken and down to earth Chris Piper, CMO at Scribe Media about how he made his way through 7 failed startups to becoming CMO and how he leads a team that he’s proud of.
Till we meet again, speak fearlessly!