-Maximus, Gladiator

During 1999, I was a member of a Toastmasters group in Saratoga, CA, which meets Saturday mornings at 9:00 AM. If you’ve never been to a Toastmasters meeting, you need to put that on your “bucket list”. It’s an entertaining experience and they don’t require guests to speak at the first meeting, unless you want to, of course.

On this particular Saturday morning, I was the designated grammarian. Therefore I had to listen to everyone’s presentation and track their “creative use” of the English language. Listening for these instances can be a daunting task when you have a room of 25 speakers.

During the impromptu speaking portion of the meeting, the TableTopics master gave  a question to one of our more senior members, Johnny.  Being a very passionate speaker, Johnny stood up confidently, walked to the lectern, and proceeded to tear up the floor!

About 20 seconds into his presentation delivery, I noticed that his statements weren’t making a whole lot of sense. So I stopped listening for creative grammar uses and began to focus on the content. After 15 more seconds, I was certain that he was making no sense at all.

I also noticed something else. As I looked around the room, I saw Johnny had every member in the room mesmerized! They were really into his message, which was silly since he didn’t have a message. But that didn’t stop them from being spellbound by his performance.

Johnny finished up a little over 120 seconds. When he did, everyone stood up and gave him a furious standing ovation. They were cheering and clapping wildly.

As we were settling down for the next speaker, I leaned over and asked the woman next to me, “What exactly did Johnny say?”

She paused, thought for a minute, and said, “I have absolutely no idea. But it sure sounded good!”

Your Presentation Delivery Matters

Sometimes we get completely caught up in what to say when we design our presentation. And don’t get me wrong. Knowing what to say is important.

But knowing how to say it can have a greater impact on our audience, and many of us give little thought to our presentation delivery.

When you get up to deliver your presentation, here are 4 essential elements you need to consider:

  1. How You Look

    Does your dress and grooming reflect the message that you want to deliver? Does it reflect the styles and tastes of your audience?

  2. What You Do

    This is your stance, your poise, your body language. Does it send the message that you are in control? Does it project your confidence and knowledge or does it betray your nervousness and lack of preparation?

  3. What You Say

    The words you use to design the message you are delivering.

  4. How You Say It

    The tone, quality, and pacing of your voice. Does the speed match the message and the audience? Are the pitch, timbre and cadence in line with what you want to say? Does your vocal volume and intensity reflect the tone of the message?

An analogy we can use here is to equate our message to medicine inside a syringe and needle. The message is the equivalent of the medicine. It has the power to heal or to hurt, depending on the purpose. However, the treatment is pretty useless without an effective delivery method. Using a dull needle or rubbing the medicine on the skin are not as effective delivery methods. However, a syringe with a sharp needle allows us to inject the medicine right into the bloodstream with little pain.

Your presentation delivery has to be like that finely sharpened needle and syringe if you want your message to resonate. If it’s off or doesn’t match the audience, your message won’t have the impact that you desire.

But if all or your elements are in alignment and as sharp as possible, then you can be like Johnny, deliver any message you want and get a standing ovation for your efforts.

For a more public speaking insights on what you say and how you say it, download Maximum Impact.

Maximum Impact Public Speaking and Presentations