How to deliver an unforgettable, unscripted presentation

Chris Lee, President, Ventureblick.

I have given many presentations in my career. Some have been good, and some not so good. One thing that’s constant is that I never use a script and don’t rehearse a lot.

This may seem strange, especially since most of my presentations were made in English, which is actually my second language. Although it’s far from perfect, I’ve been known to be a very spontaneous speaker. Many wonder how I present with confidence without a script.

In fact, the unscripted presentation may be an advantage rather than a disadvantage. Why? I believe that for presentations to have an impact, there needs to be an emotional connection with the audience beyond just delivering facts and data.

Without being constrained by a scenario, I can better express my emotions, which resonate with people. My speech will be more natural and as if I’m having a conversation with the audience. I may stumble over some words, but at least I won’t sound too perfect like a machine. For me, being a natural and authentic speaker is far more important than being a perfect speaker.

However, not having a script does not mean that there is no preparation. In fact, you have to be very well prepared with good equipment in advance. Think about the logic of flow and structure. Prepare stories, examples, data and even jokes to help the audience remember your points. After that, focus on making your delivery as natural and easy as possible.

Here are some tips for leaving a lasting impression, even without a script.

1. Use icebreakers.

Warm up the audience and quickly connect with them by starting with a joke or a story. Prepare different types of icebreakers depending on the audience, duration and purpose of the presentation.

For example, in 2014, I gave a 15-minute presentation at the Asia Society’s 2014 Diversity Leadership Forum in New York on a rather serious topic: the difference in expectations of Asian Americans working in multinational corporations. . To make the opening light and memorable, I started with a funny story about how an American immigration officer tried to communicate with an Asian traveler who didn’t speak English, which reminded me of my first entry. in the country many years ago. It was something the audience could relate to and made them laugh. The organizers told me that this was one of the highest rated sessions of this event.

On another occasion, during a startup competition, I had to attend over 20 pitches to shortlist a few winners. Most contestants tried to explain the technical aspects of their innovations in a 10-minute pitch, but one stood out because he started with a personal story to grab everyone’s attention. Using a photo of himself in front of an emergency room, he spoke about his experience working in the emergency room and how painful it was for him to see patients suffer without treatment. This was his motivation for starting his business and why he planned to make a difference. His story moved all the judges. Today, I still remember this founder.

2. Anticipate questions from the audience.

One way to create impact is to anticipate questions your audience might have and answer them upfront.

In one of my previous organizations, which went through a few rounds of restructuring, there was a sense of uncertainty and negative feelings that caused tension between departments. People wondered, “Why are there so many people in this department? “What is their contribution to the company? “Who is really generating revenue and who should reap the most benefits?” People’s mentalities had to be changed.

Instead of sweeping these tough questions under the rug, I invited employees to come together for an informal session with me where I addressed their questions early on (instead of waiting for the last 10 minutes of the session) , knowing what they had in mind. It showed how transparent the management team was and employees appreciated how proactively we addressed their concerns.

You might like to try this technique in your future presentations as it might give you unexpected results.

3. Take note of your audience’s attention span.

Holding your audience’s attention is one of the biggest challenges for any speaker. Cognitive scientists have found that people usually stop listening to a presentation after 10 minutes. After that, their thoughts begin to wander.

There are plenty of tips and suggestions on how to grab attention, from using visuals and videos, to interacting with questions and props, to inviting other speakers for a change of pace. .

In 2018, I had to give a two-hour sales presentation to over 5,000 employees in a large, dimly lit stadium. I was facing a very sleepy audience dreading the prospect of listening to a long, dry speech. So, I used all the tricks in the bag.

Halfway through the presentation, I invited the audience to vote: take a little break, dance, or end the session now. Most of them voted “dance” because they were curious. Other leaders came to dance on stage with me (rehearsed in advance, of course), and the audience also joined me. It made everyone laugh, refreshed the audience and boosted the energy level.

I truly believe that the most powerful moments in your presentations are those that are unscripted. While you may have general ideas prepared, what’s most important in your next presentation isn’t the set of points you want to make, but how you connect with your audience. Will they be able to relate to you and feel your presence? Do you know who your audience is and how to get your message across to them in the most effective and impactful way? Use these tips to prepare and not miss out.

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