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Speak Up For Personal Brand Success

09 October 2015

I clearly remember in 2001 being a mentee in Women in Business a program run by The Department of State and Regional Development in NSW. I was there to learn more about running my small PR business and during the course of the program we learnt about setting goals. I shared with the group that one goal I had was to be a professional speaker. As it happens one of the mentors in the program ran a networking group and asked me to speak at it.

So in August 2001, I did my first keynote presentation as a public speaker and I was terrified. It does get easier with time. Public speaking is a great way to enhance your visibility and communicate your brand.   

Often in my line of work as a business educator and conference speaker, I am fortunate to meet some talented speakers from around the world, learn more about the power of a masterful presentation and pick up valuable tips on how to grow my business. For business leaders having the ability to capture and influence an audience is a large measure of success in your career or business. Being a featured speaker or on a panel session at a conference is one way to build your personal brand, reputation and company awareness.

So what makes a great presenter?

Confidence is most likely your initial response and I agree. The number one characteristic that shines through is confidence. Acquiring this quality alone will put many ordinary presenters into the “good” category. What could you do then to go that extra step forward?

Like others in the audience I am most impressed by the presenters who not only impart relevant information but do it in an interesting, entertaining and authentic way. Here are a few tips on what I have observed:

Practice makes perfect, so they say. But practice also makes permanent. It’s important to try new things, experiment, take risks and most importantly to add variety to your presentation. Variety can be built into your presentation through storytelling, humour, use of props, audiovisuals, group exercises or audience involvement. Variety in your voice – try soft, loud, fast and slow. Try a range of techniques to keep your audience energised and interested.

Have a clear outcome in mind of what you want the audience to take away from your presentation. Remember it’s about them and how they feel. It could simply be they feel comfortable with you to provide a particular service, or you’ve convinced them your product is the best on the market. It could be to motivate them to do something or inspire or challenge them to try something new.

Organise your speech into “chunks”. Rather than try to memorise or read a 30 minute speech (or a 3 hour one!) if you have several chunks that deliver a particular message it is easier for you and your audience to remember.

Use your body wisely. It’s okay to jump up and down and be energetic if that is your style. Many of you would have been to an Anthony Robbins or other motivating style of presentation and seen how they use their bodies. At other times a speech delivered with poise and stillness from a lectern is appropriate. 

Awareness of what works for you and what doesn’t and the willingness to build on those foundations.

Feedback is incredibly important whether you record yourself and analyse your own performance or have someone else critique for you. But here’s the catch. Most of us only dwell on what didn’t work and try to fix those problems. By recognising what works for you and building on your strengths that will give you the confidence to improve and become a great presenter.

Sue Currie is a personal branding specialist and director of Sue Currie Communications.

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