An article recently posted to Fast Company titled, “Giving Kick-Ass Presentations In The Age Of Social Media” shares 7 tips on how to create impressive presentations for the tech savvy. The piece starts off by including an anecdote about a presentation gone wrong. “It was painful to watch. Jon Bond, the former ad giant turned social media honcho, was actually getting heckled at the Pivot Conference. When faced with what was a feisty crowd to begin with, Bond admitting that he ‘didn’t like Twitter’ was like throwing fresh meat at rabid dogs. But rather than raise their voices, they let their fingers do the shouting. So while Bond continued to speak, a steady stream of snarky tweets projected on the wall behind him, acting like foghorns and essentially drowning him out.” Sound familiar at all? Ever finish what you thought was a great presentation, only to find that critics took to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. to demolish your appearance entirely? Read on, friends.
“Being a great speaker was never easy, but now, with your audience likely to have a mobile device in hand and real-time access to multiple social channels, the challenges have gotten that much greater. To get a sense of the impact of social media on conference presentations, I interviewed a bunch of regulars on the social media circuit. In the process, they helped me identify these seven (somewhat snarky) new rules for public speaking in the social media era.” So what to do when you’re nervous about what to say?
Here are a few golden tips they have shared:
1. Don’t Panic if They Aren’t Looking at You
Sure, it’s disconcerting when you gaze out at the audience and no one looks back. But whatever you do–don’t panic. Just because they are transfixed by their mobile devices, doesn’t mean they aren’t all ears. “I think the body language tells you if they’re paying attention–it’s far more distracting to see people whispering to each other than it is to see someone tapping on an iPad” said Jenny Dervin, VP of Corporate Communications at JetBlue, who received raves at a recent BDI event.
2. Stifle the Temptation to Ask for a Device Moratorium
As tempting as it might be to ask your audience to shut down their devices, every speaker I talked to thought this would be a huge mistake. “I might get their undivided attention, but it would be mixed with their ire at being told how to watch my presentation,” said former actor and speaker extraordinaire John C. Havens, who reminded me that in the old days, before digital devices, a lot of people would take notes on a pad of paper, which isn’t all that different than tapping out a tweet.
3. If You Aren’t Nervous, You Should Be Now
When I first learned public speaking, an experience advisor suggested that you “imagine the audience is naked,” to quell the initial butterflies. Today, speakers are probably better off reminding themselves that they are the naked ones. If your facts are wrong, your audiences will Google then tweet the corrected data before you can say, “I’m just sayin’.” And if that isn’t scary enough, as author and speaker Jeff Jarvis proclaimed last year at TED-NY, “the lecture, as a form, is bull****,” so you better ask yourself what you’re doing up there, anyway!
4. If You Don’t Speak Twitterese, It’s Time to Learn It
Let’s just imagine for the moment that your audience is absolutely riveted by your every word. Chances are some, if not many of them, will want to share your wisdom with their network, not tomorrow when they get back to the office, but right at that very moment. It is for this reason today’s effective speakers are not just sharing their Twitter handles upfront but also mixing in tweetable quotes. “Puns, sound bites and pithy phrases are [also] ways to aid in retention,” Havens said.
The article mentions that all of this valuable information is actually from some credible sources, just in case you were wondering. “All of the people we spoke to for this piece are very effective speakers, and though each has their own distinctive style, there are a few other commonalities I’d like to point out. First, none of them depend on word-laden PowerPoint presentations. Second, most are good storytellers and use humor, often self-deprecating, to connect with their audiences. Finally, each of them manages to keep their presentations short enough to allow time for a healthy Q&A.” To read all of the tips the article offers, click on the link to view.
Have you ever experienced problems with your presentations and keeping your customers, employees or any other audience engaged? Have any of these tips helped for you? Do you have any tips that aren’t mentioned here? If so, feel free to share them below!