Monthly Archives: October 2014

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Public Speaking : Preparation and Presentation in a Digital World by Coast...

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You walk into the office, mentally planning all the things you have to do today. But suddenly, you get a tap on the shoulder.


“Pop in to our conference and give a 15-minute overview of your project. There’s an important client who needs to hear it.”


Instead of feeling elated at the opportunity — how do you really feel?


Nervous? Anxious? Like you’d rather be anywhere else?


Many of my clients confess these emotions are their first response. It’s understandable.


Most people are not thrilled to be put on the spot at the last minute. And here’s why:


Speaking in public can be scary enough…even when you’re prepared. But when you get tapped in the final hour, you don’t have any time to prepare. Often, the person tapping you is guiding you by the elbow directly into the conference room.


Talk about pressure!


Instead of sweating when you are asked to pop into the conference room, use these three tips. They’ll help you prepare and feel in control for impromptu presentations.


Tip 1: Know What Your Colleague Wants


Do you have a clear idea of your role in the presentation? Are you coming in as the theoretical expert or the down-to-earth implementer?


If you can glean this information, you will be able to adapt and adjust your story to match the desires and needs of your co-worker. Think about the mood and interaction with your co-presenter. Should you be funny or factual? Should you be direct and authoritative? Or would it be better to be more conversational and approachable?


Find out what your co-presenter wants to achieve and then make an instant game plan. This may include super-charging your style to make a powerful impression. Create the right mood and deliver it with confidence. With even a few moments of peer planning, you can give a powerful presentation that shows warmth, humor and polish.


Tip 2: Know What This Audience Needs


This is related – but different than the first tip. Your colleague wants a specific dynamic and interaction…but what does this group of people need from you?


Perhaps your colleague is dry and boring – then, they want to hear from someone with a spark of energy. Conversely, your co-presenter may be enthusiastic and bubbly – so the audience is looking to you for serious data and facts.


Showcase your expertise to serve your participants. Find out what they need to know. You can do this with a simple question: “I’ve got more experience about this project than most people will have in a lifetime. But I want to know from you what specific aspect will help you the most…”


By inviting the audience into the conversation, you can tailor your message on the spot.


Tip 3: Know The One Message You Want To Give


Even if you have years of experience and mountains of expertise, boil it down into a single sentence. Make sure that this core idea is what you impart to your audience.


This is not about ‘dumbing down’ your message. Rather, it’s about keeping your message profoundly simple. This helps any audience understand your data and put your expertise into action.


If you do this in advance, you’ll always be ready to give an ad hoc presentation. Once you use these three tips, you’ll be ready to go. Then, that tap on the shoulder won’t send shivers up your spine.


Prepare for success in ad hoc and impromptu presentations. Tell the right story to work seamlessly with co-presenters, connect to each audience, and tell a memorable story.

Milly Sonneman is a recognized expert in visual language. She is the co-director of Presentation Storyboarding, a leading presentation training firm, and author of the popular guides: Beyond Words and Rainmaker Stories available on Amazon. Milly helps business professionals give winning presentations, through Email Marketing skills trainings at Presentation Storyboarding. You can find out more about our courses or contact Milly through our website at:

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