Are you afraid of public speaking? You’re not alone.
Did you know that in 2014, public speaking ranked one of the top greatest fears? Delivering public presentations is just a few notches below to fear of heights, bugs, snakes and needles!
If you’re like me, much of this fear probably comes from another fear: fear of being judged, ridiculed, criticized or fear of making mistakes.
And why is this so? It’s because we’ve always been taught that there’s a ‘’right’’ way to present. That is, if you don’t follow these rules, you fail as a presenter.
You’ve probably read a lot on presentation tips, joined Toastmaster training classes, watched hundreds of TED videos or even attended Pecha Kucha sessions. All these may have directly or indirectly formed an impression of how you *should* be presenting.
But if you look at some of the most famous speakers, you’d also realize that there’s not just one best way to present. You’d be relieved to know there are many ways to create a memorable and lasting impression to your audience.
Here are 6 presentation styles as well as some examples of popular presenters who’ve adapted them.
Think minimalist in terms of content. Think Steve Jobs and his one-worded slides.
Instead, you have speakers like Seth Godin who makes use of large, colorful slides during presentations. These slides have very little, if any, text.
If you’re a firm believer that slides are just there to complement, then a visual style will work for you. It’s all up to what you’re going to say to get your audience engaged.
Also, if you’re about to deliver a presentation under time pressure (both to prepare and present it), then applying a highly visual style might be your best option.
Free form style
Who says you have to have all decked out slides and long scripts to make a great presentation?
Creativity presenters like Sir Ken Robinson proves that as long as you know what you want to say with some 2-3 key points in mind, have a good sense of humor and some stories to share and illustrate your points, then you’re good to go even without slides or a script.
This impromptu style of presentation may frighten some but this can be exciting for others who feel constrained by rules and structure.
If you prefer a bit less extreme, you can simply build a simple deck with key notes or pieces. Like a minimalist approach, avoid holding large quantities of data in your head.
Many freestyle speakers just get down to it, not practice as much and are uncomfortable delivering a presentation prepared by others.
If you need to get a complex message across, then an instructor approach may be most suitable.
If you notice, many seasoned politicians use this style. Just listen to the likes of Al Gore pepper their presentations with lots of figures of speech and metaphors. They can go on and on with a lot of content.
When applied correctly, an instructor approach can be very persuasive by building decks in a logical order and using high-impact visuals as evidence to support your ideas.
However, when used incorrectly, this style can lose connection with the audience and make you appear distant. In using this approach, try to balance your focus between the material and the audience.
This style is a favorite among self-help inspirational speakers.
As a coach, they come across as energetic, charismatic speakers who are great at connecting and engaging with their audience. They love role-playing.
In speakers like Linda Edgecombe, you can easily see the passion in what they’re saying.
So if you’re about to speak on a topic that interests and excites you to share with your audience, then this style is best. But be careful that your passion doesn’t lead you to lose your audience.
Strike a balance between talking and getting reaction or feedback from your listeners. Avoid talking too fast. Pace your presentation.
If there’s one thing all those presentation researches and training has taught you, it is this: build a connection with your audience. And one way to do that is to tell a story.
Everyone loves a good story. And famous presenters like Jill Bolte Taylor are natural storytellers who can speak with feeling and rhythm by using powerful and highly emotional words.
This is something you can use as well to add depth and detail to your presentation.
As many communications experts remind us, your audience doesn’t want to be lectured. You win your audience by speaking to them, instead of at them.
2 tips when using this approach: first, feel free to provide examples or anecdotes to connect with your audience than just sharing your knowledge. But keep in mind to take these stories and connect them to learning points based on your presentation ideas.
Second, keep in mind one of TED’s Commandments: ‘’Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.’’ Let your emotions out and tell your story in an honest way.
Yes, it’s one of those many rules again but this has certainly brought great success in speakers like Jill Bolte or Nick Vujicic to make the audience feel the speakers are human, genuine and even credible.
Check out our interview with Catrine Engelgreen, a Danish motivational speaker who speaks about this aspect.
In some ways, storytellers also connect by showing how they can be one of ‘’us’’ or the audience.
But applying this style means you’re comfortable both on stage and within the audience. In some cases, they may prefer to be in the audience rather than the presenter.
But nonetheless, they’re still organized, meticulous and are able to provide well-structured presentations.
Like those who employ the freestyle mode, connectors enjoy a freeform Q&A environment. They use lots of gestures and highly encourage audience reaction or feedback.
If you prefer to talk less, then applying this style may just as equally be effective in keeping your audience engaged.
So now, who says there’s only one ‘’rule’’ or style that will make for great presentations? Depending on your audience, purpose and content, feel free to use one or even a combination of these styles.
At the same time, choose a style that feels more natural for you. Once you know where you’re more comfortable, the more you can realize where your strengths and weaknesses lie. The more you can do better and so hopefully, we’ll have less one person in this world who’s scared of public speaking.
Regardless of which style suits you, we’ve got your back to build the slides that will complement your presentation! See for yourself by watching this video: