Executive Presentation Skills

It is becoming increasingly important in today’s business environment for the executive to be an expert communicator in order to be successful.  In any area of business, the people who are good communicators are generally the ones who get ahead and achieve the success they want.  Having the confidence and presentation skills needed to present a powerful and persuasive message is very important in any situation – whether its delivering that all important company pitch, presenting at the next executive board meeting, or motivating and inspiring your team at the next company conference.  In this article we’ll be looking at some techniques to help you achieve more in any presentation opportunity.

Presentation Training can make all the difference

Liz Banks - Skillstudio MD If you’re a company executive and want some expert coaching to help you enhance your presentation skills then Skillstudio are there to help. We provide:-

Executive Presentation Skills 121 Coaching
Half day of full day, 121 coaching in business presenting by an expert trainer. Held throughout the UK on a date and time to suit you and tailored exactly to your personal requirements.

Beginner Level Presentation Skills Training
These 1-day public courses are held regularly in Central London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and are ideal for any of your staff who are new to presenting.

Effective Presentation Skills (Intermediate level course)
These 2-day public courses are held regularly in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow.

Advanced Presentation Skills
This 2-day Public course is held regularly in Central London.

We can also run our presentation skills courses for your organisation on an in-house basis at your premises throughout the UK and Europe.

Call us today on 08456 444 150 if you want to discuss how our training can help you or your team.

The executive presenter

So – what skills does the executive need in order to be a successful presenter?  Well, let’s first consider the three main purposes of a presentation.  Broadly speaking we can categorize a presentation in to three key purposes:

1.  Inform – this is when you give your audience information – so it is a means of passing on facts to your audience

2.  Explain – this is when you need to explain something like a new procedure or process.  It usually involves giving information as well.

3.  Persuade – this may involve giving information and explanation but with a view of influencing and persuading the audience along a certain line.

The ability to persuade the audience is essential to the success of the executive presenter.  The executive presenter needs to be able draw upon a range of advanced presentation techniques to help them use their persuasive powers to influence an audience who may not be initially open to their ideas.  These techniques can be developed and three of the most common areas that influence your ability to be persuasive are:

The power of the voice

The power of body language

The power of the spoken word

The power of the voice

The executive presenter needs to influence their audience through the power of their voice.  However, even if you are an experienced presenter, you may not be making the most of your voice when you are presenting.  You may feel passionately about your material but this may not be being effectively conveyed through your voice and so your audience is left uninspired.  Three of the most common reasons why this happens are:

Your voice is monotone

You are speaking too quickly

You lack energy and conviction in your voice

However, the above faults can all be addressed by developing some simple but highly effective vocal techniques. 

The monotone voice

If you are speaking for any length of time – you can begin to lose energy in your voice so that it drops off and becomes dull and monotone with little variation.  So whatever you are saying the audience will switch off and you will lose the ability to deliver your message in a persuasive way. To help address this – imagine you are speaking in the role of the story teller telling your audience an exciting story.  This will automatically ‘lift’ your voice and give it more expression.  Don’t worry about sounding ‘over the top’ – this is very unlikely to happen as we always sound less exaggerated to our audience than we think we do.

Speaking too quickly

Speaking too quickly is a common fault for many presenters, especially at the start of a presentation when even for experienced executive presenters, nerves can kick in.  But you need to speak at a slower pace to your normal conversational voice when you are presenting or the audience won’t be able to follow easily and you will lose the ability to command their attention.  So when you first start to speak make a conscious effort to speak more slowly than usual.  Practise your first three sentences out aloud beforehand and say them slowly with a pause in between.  The pause acts like a brake pedal and will help you to control your speed so that you don’t race ahead.

Lacking energy and conviction

Even for the experienced executive, if the voice lacks energy and conviction, this will weaken their ability to influence the audience.  To help address this – draw out the most important words in your sentences, the powerful words that carry the meaning of the sentence.  By emphasing these words you will influence the overall message and also inject a stronger passion and conviction in your voice.  It also helps to keep your sentences short – as it’s much harder to maintain energy when speaking in longer sentences.  So reduce the number of ‘ands’ you have in your sentences and replace with a full stop and a new sentence.

The power of your body language

To make a strong impact on your audience, it’s equally as important for the executive to have a strong presence and use their body language effectively.  Your stance says a lot about you – so make sure that it is strong, relaxed and engaging.  Negative body language can have an adverse effect on the way your audience sees you and this can reduce your overall credibility. 

Building rapport

We build rapport with people when we make eye contact with them.  So make sure you make eye contact with your audience when you are speaking with them.  Avoidance of eye contact or a flitting use of eye contact can reduce your rapport with the audience.  Maintain a confident use of eye contact – about 4-5 seconds on any individual – to ensure that you look confident and convincing.  Make sure you share your eye contact around the room at random – this also keeps your audience on their toes and maintains their attention, as they never know when you will look at them next.

Enhancing your message through gesture

Use of gesture can help you to enhance your messages and make them more powerful.  When you gesture on a particular word this makes you emphasize that word to your audience.  It will reflect in your voice which will sound more dynamic and the overall impact will be more powerful and memorable to your audience. 

Commanding your audience

The way you use your space when you present says a lot about you.  The executive presenter who is at ease in their space conveys a strong presence and command over their audience.  To help achieve this try to walk around the space before you present and before the audience arrive, to help you get used to it.  When you are presenting, try to move to different places in the space – whatever is possible.  This is not only relaxing to do but also helps to reinforce what you are saying as the audience tend to associate different messages with different points in the room where you are presenting.

The language of persuasion

The language of the presentation is also a key factor in helping the executive fully engage with and influence their audience.  In order to present your message in a persuasive way you need to speak in a way that’s easy on the ears of the audience.  It’s important therefore that your presentation is created to be spoken out aloud rather than just a written piece of text.  Here are some ways to help you achieve this:

Be informal

Don’t use over formal grammar that is technically correct and works well for the written word but will sound stilted to your audience when read out.  Keep your sentences short with one thought per sentence – so that your audience can follow easily.

Be clear

Highlight key points to your audience so that they become clear and so that your audience will remember them.  Use ‘signpost’s that ‘flag up’ a key point and reinforce it at the end.  This will help to order the way you present your information which makes it easier for you to deliver in a fluent manner and which is easier for the audience to remember.

Be creative

Use creative techniques which help engage with your audience’s imagination and help them to remember your message.  Do this by incorporating stories or personal examples into your presentation that help to support your message.

Putting it all together

We have looked at three key areas to help you enhance the way you deliver your executive presentations with more persuasion and influence.

Using your voice

Using your body language

Using persuasive language

By developing techniques in these three areas, you will enhance the way in which you communicate with your audience and deliver highly effective presentations that are vital for your success in the executive business environment.

Invest in your own presentation skills

There are no hidden secrets to being successful when you present. You can develop these skills through training and practice. It is worth the investment. By enhancing the ways in which you present and communicate you’ll be able to develop a much stronger influence on your audience and thus encourage them to respond to you in the way you want!

To get some expert advice and coaching and enhance your presenting, click on one of the links below:-

Executive Presentation Skills Coaching  - 121 coaching
Business Presentation Courses – Open to members of the public
Business Presenting - In-house training for companies and organisations

Skillstudio also offer public courses, 1-2-1 coaching and in-house training in many aspects of presentation skills and communication skills, including public speaking, vocal skills and body language awareness.

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