Preparing a powerful and positive presentation
I am not talking about some preppy, overly hipped and false positivity infused series of slides. When preparing a powerful and positive presentation, you start with a conscious appreciation of the complex mix of pieces you want to carefully assemble for your presentation, starting with the challenge, the solution, your audience and thinking about yourself as a leader who delivers this presentation.
A positive presentation essentially means, framing your message and your delivery to reflect a ‘power to’ rather than a ‘power over’ leadership style. This positive leadership style requires leaders to develop a ‘talking with’ rather than a ‘talking about’ communication style that is also easily transferrable from giving a presentation to having a personal conversation.
From an organisational perspective, a positive leader can expect that there will be numerous occasions where they will be expected to address a wider audience and enunciate a specific idea, action, challenge, etc., and the news may not always be good. Therefore, preparation is critical because clarity in your message is king, while confusion is crippling. What factors should you consider when preparing a powerful and positive presentation?
- Know your audience – appreciate and understand what their concerns and mind-sets are when you are delivering your message. A conscious awareness of this as you prepare your message will enable you to shape a message that resonates with your audience. You as the leader will know what demotivates your people.
- Define the issue – clarity is key here, understand what it is you wish to communicate. Be clear in your own mind before you open your mouth. Avoid technical terms and jargon. Ensure your audience knows why they are there and avoid generating unnecessary anxiety or tension.
- Have a purpose – what is the desired outcome from this presentation? It is important to keep in mind that positivity is not about being unrealistically positive but rather a realistic evaluation of negative situations, and importantly for this factor, identifying positive ways to move forward and tackle present challenges in the future.
- Set the conditions for performance – explain how you would like to create right the environment for all to engage and actively drive the solution and positive way forward. Acknowledge the strengths of the organization and how together you will build on these. This demonstrates the positive regard you have for them, the vitality with which you hope that collectively you will be focused on driving a solution, while also demonstrating the mutual benefits for all.
Once you have those 4 factors considered and your speech prepared it is important to realise that you, as the leader, will be the conduit through which this message will be communicated. Therefore, your preparation also needs to focus on the following components:
- Your appearance – clean, neat and considered. As you are aware people tend to make a quick judgement about your appearance, therefore ensure that your appearance reflects the mood and the occasion.
- Your posture – look alert and focused. Maintain control of your arms and hands to ensure that their movements do not become a distraction. If sitting don’t rock or swivel in your chair. This is not necessarily adopting a power pose but using your body to communicate a confident, relaxed and engaged style. You are seeking to communicate a ‘talk with’ approach to the issues at hand and not a ‘talk to, about or over’ approach.
- Your setting – ensure your setting captures the context of the presentation. The position of the speaker, as well as, the backdrop has an impact. Ensure that your audience will be able to see and hear you, and that you will not be competing with external distractions.
- Your delivery – stay natural, use powerful and imaginative words, don’t ramble and be concise. Importantly, remember that you are engaging in a dialogue so breathe and relax, you will be fine.
Delivering a powerful and positive presentation is one facet of the positive communication skills required by positive and mindful leaders. Ultimately the two key considerations to keep in mind are: (1) Understanding (the audience, the challenge, the solution, the outcome), and; (2) Preparation (the leader, the message, the setting). We, at Serrano 99, provide support and training to organisations in positive communication and not just as part of our positive leadership development program but as part of our consulting services. A powerful and positive presentation can be the bedrock on which future actions are taken, ensuring clarity of thought and purpose while defusing confusion are critical for ensuring that the words you use resonate and set the conditions for future success.