I’ve asked this question before on this blog but I’ll ask it again: what is the point of public speaking? Surely the answer is to communicate, to convey a message that the audience will remember. So why is it that so few speakers even attempt to differentiate themselves from the others and put that message across in a more memorable way?
Of course, it’s obvious why. Giving a presentation is a challenge in itself and doing it differently from the norm can seem a bridge too far. Everyone else shows hundreds of text-packed PowerPoint slides, so that’s clearly what is expected and required of every speaker; to do otherwise would draw adverse attention and possibly cause administrative problems. In business and academia, particularly, I’m hearing this more and more, as organisations adopt this approach as standard and administrative systems further entrench it. We’ll talk another time about these systems and how to get around them but for now I want to concentrate on the principle of doing things differently.
The first step to making a strong, memorable presentation is to learn the techniques of successful delivery. Without these elements, your talk may well be discussed and remembered, but it probably won’t be for the right reasons. The aim is not to stand out from the crowd as an end in itself but to find the most effective way of imparting your message to the audience – and that is unlikely to be a series of slides with lots of words on them.
Departing from convention can bring your talk to life. It can be more fun and easier to present and it will have a great deal more impact on the people listening to you.
As an illustration of what I mean, here is Marcus Brigstocke explaining some potentially dry concepts of economics: