When presenting, you are literally the face of the presentation. Some find this attention intimidating and hide behind screens or prompt cards, lower their heads and avoid the eyes of everyone in the room. Others rise to the challenge and step out with confidence, ready to present themselves to the world. Remember: you are selling yourself just as much as an idea, product or message. You can’t hide from it, so show off your individual personality and celebrate it instead. Read ahead to find out how.
Go with your instincts
“Be yourself” is a popular piece of advice for a reason. It’s the only true way to be unique, by being genuine. Plus, people can feel if you’re putting on a front, especially under the glaring attention of a presentation audience. Do what comes naturally to you. If you naturally use humor, then use humor. If you are a natural storyteller, tell a story. Don’t put on a character or pretend to be someone you’re not. Simply allow all your positive personality traits shine through the most.
One fitting example of such integrity is Susan Cain in her famous TED Talk “The Power of Introverts.” Rather than acting overly confident or dramatic, Cain speaks softly and naturally, supporting her message to empower introverted people. If she were to run on stage, acting like the extrovert she admits not to be, her behavior would undermine her words, and the presentation would not be half as effective.
So be yourself and let your passion show in whichever way suits you best.
There is an enormous difference between how we write on paper and how we speak in person. Words on paper do not flow as naturally through our voice, compared to when we speak in the moment. Although it can be a good start to solidify your thoughts on paper, by the time it comes to speaking, you should ideally be allowing the words to fall organically off your tongue.
Some presenters set up a dialogue, in order the make their speech more natural, like how it is in a conversation. One was of doing this is by telling a story, which naturally progresses and includes different characters, different mindsets. Others do it through asking rhetorical questions, inviting listeners into their thought process. Or by actively asking for audience input, engaging with people, demanding a response and making it clear that the presentation is a two-way street.
However you choose to do it, by speaking naturally you insert your own personality into the presentation. Not just through the power of words, but through the power of natural and authentic words. That’s what people really want to hear. For more advice, check out Inter-Activ’s article on how to avoid sounding robotic when speaking from a script.
Personalise your PowerPoint
Displaying your personality is not limited to your appearance and words. Your PowerPoint is an extension of you and your presentation. Use it to highlight your individual character. After all, the more unique, open and honest, the more an audience will remember.
Yes, your PowerPoint should be for the audience, not for you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with it, to make it different and interesting. Consider what you admire about other people’s presentations, and use that to inspire you. Do you love wacky and memorable memes or pop culture images? Use them – stand out! Or, is there a simple black and white, or cartooned, or multicolored style you have always remembered? Take it, use it and make it your own.
Customizing PowerPoints is a classic presentation technique, one of the oldest in the book. Why? Because everyone can do it, everyone can be creative, and everyone can project their personal style. Consider the deeper meanings of your choices. Use a color scheme that connects to your business. Use themed sections to create a whole creative motif around your message.
Everyone has different views on PowerPoint styles. Just stick to the golden rule of simplicity. But you can’t please everyone, so you might as well at least please yourself!
Structure your presentation on a story
Many speakers use an anecdote at the beginning of their presentation. It helps give a context and allows the audience to feel connected from the start. They might return to that story at the end, to show the progress of an idea or process. However, others structure their whole speech on a story, using the first-person narrative throughout. It is an intimate way of presenting and possibly the most effective way of revealing your personality.
For example, Scott Harrison uses this structure in his presentation on Charity: Water. Harrison recalls his past experiences, honestly telling listeners about his unfulfilling life as a promoter in New York and decision to dedicate his life to providing clean water to African communities, after traveling and seeing the devastating poverty in such countries. He directly ties in his personal development with his career development, linking the moral revelations of charity work with how he discovers himself as a person. The result is a highly emotive and very effective speech.
In their article on how to persuade an audience, Big Fish Presentations describe this technique as using pathos. The use of storytelling, a utopian vision, and emotional appeal can not only help you display personality, but also convince the audience of your idea and message.
Give your personal contact details
This tip is a simple one that can make a significant difference. Keep the lines of communication direct and personal. Following a presentation selling yourself, you don’t want to encourage your audience then to visit a corporate website or talk to an assistant. You’ve been personal all the way through your speech. So, guess what – they want to speak to you afterward.
Essentially, people are inspired and persuaded by people with personality. We don’t buy a product; we buy the lifestyle, the personalized effect it has on our lives. We don’t buy an idea; we buy a vision, a potential, the passion of the person selling it to us. Business is personal because it works with people. So, make sure your presentations reveal the best and most unique thing you can offer: your individual personality.