Ineffective communicators can bore and disengage an audience in a matter of seconds. With a litany of outdated methods, nervous tics or over-technical jargon, people will just stop caring about what you have to say. In an age where everything from interviews to VC pitches involves presentation, effective communication is a vital skill that could determine the longevity of your company.
Why is communication important?
Frankly, because people will stop listening. Today’s world has thousands of competing beeps, buzzers, people and videos vying for our attention, which has been reduced to shorter than that of the average goldfish. Trail off too long and people will doze off, start thinking about dinner or judge the quality of your shoes. If you can’t engage an audiences’ focus and emotions, the brain shuts off. People need stimulation, and effective communication techniques stimulate the mind so that your message is heard and influencing.
Effective communication starts with listening
We have two ears and one mouth for a reason: 93% of communication is nonverbal, which means everything from the way you stand to the pitch of your voice plays a part in how you communicate. That means a silent audience is just as involved in the presentation as you are. Every presentation is a conversation, and your audience will tell you when they’re bored, when they’re engaged and when they want to laugh. If you don’t listen to these indicators and pay attention, the audience feels as though they don’t matter. Disengaged.
This stays true whether your audience is one person or 100 people. A presentation should be an intimate conversation where you're trying to speak to one person’s heart, mind, needs and desires. Two actors on stage listen to each other and react to each other's words in a way that’s genuine. You must say something, listen to the audience’s reaction, react to their reaction. Communication and presentation is a behavioral exchange that’s vital for communicating your message. Why? Because when you’re listening, you can charge your audience with an emotional energy that’ll make them remember your message better.
Emotional instead of technical
Many pitches, especially to VCs in raising capital, are technical in their nature. You want to explain all the science and technology and whatever so people understand the value proposition. However, this is no way to sell an idea. Speaker and trainer Stephanie Paul works with her c-suite clients to find the emotional drives in the story of their pitch. Not everyone understands life sciences, but everyone has emotions. When you speak to a wide audience and play to that emotional connection, you’re enticing your listeners into excitement.
Your goal in a 15-20 minute presentation should be to figure out how to charge up a bunch of investors to get as excited about your product as you are.
Emotional charging plays on a neuroscientific level by activating your audiences’ mirror neurons. If you genuinely connect with them and convey a simple, repeatable and digestible message, they’ll observe your excitement and match their own to meet it. Have you ever been to a concert where you feel utterly thrilled by the energy of the performers? The same principle applies here. Entice your audience to get excited, ask questions and do due diligence about your ideas.
An audience will only remember 10% of your presentation. As such, a performance must have a clear, salient and bold message that’s driven home multiple times in varied ways. If you’re using slides, try images. Play music, employ humor, ask your audience questions. Humor, especially, is valuable in presentations: laughter is a shared sign of recognition of the human experience, and it encourages watchers to relax and be more receptive to your message.
Internalize your message: this will allow you to clearly communicate with your audience and not be inhibited by "ums" or pauses or nerves. Be respectful of your audience's time. If you have 15 minutes, you better prepare a speech that cuts off at 13 minutes, because you’re giving the audience time to react. Practice with a timer and clock yourself.
Finally, give your audience a gift. As TEDx’s brand message says, what is the diamond value you’re giving your audience that will make them deem you worth their time and attention? Talk to them, not at them, and keep them stimulated with emotion, engaging tactics and a clear, repeated message.
Stephanie Paul is the Founder and CEO of Stephanie Paul, Inc. Stephanie has an expertise in Working with people who have a significant message that needs to be inspirationally transferred to a variety of audiences. Helping clients get away from "Selling" to Storytelling and turn facts and figures in to "Edutainment". All this with a professional, entertaining, funny and unique style of coaching. Her clients have FUN while being coached ultimately learning how to communicate on a deeper more connected and entertaining level. Bringing a new refreshing air to the culture of the traditional corporate "Bored Room".
From an international background as an actress and a comedienne, including producing and directing Stephanie Paul has combined her knowledge and experience with writing, acting, presentation and production for both on camera and the speakers stage, to bring the “Mastery of the Message” to her clients. Executive Producer and Co-Organizer of TEDx Mission Viejo 2016, Official TEDx Orange Coast Presentation & Connection Coach 2014, 2015, and Official TEDx - Kish (Iran) Presentation & Connection Coach April 2015/16.
Rick Girard is the Founder & CEO of Stride Search, an Orange County Recruiters and Consulting firm. Rick brings world-class leadership to firms across the nation to meet highly challenging business and talent acquisition objectives. With expertise in creative sourcing, consultative management and winning placement strategies, Rick Girard plants the hiring seeds for his partners’ success.
While not running a School for Gifted Mutants as Professor X, Rick hosts Hire Power Radio Show, a weekly series on OCTalkRadio.net which serves as an entrepreneur’s resource to solve the most difficult hiring challenges. When not on the air, Rick regularly gives talks and writes valuable content for Hiring Managers and Job Seekers alike. His mission: elevate and sharpen the industry standards of exclusive professional search.