10 Ways to Share Your Story and Wow Crowds

“When you have a memorable story about who you are and what your mission is, your success no longer depends on how experienced you are or how many degrees you have or who you know. A good story transcends boundaries, breaks barriers and opens doors.” – Blake Mycoskie, founder, TOMS Shoes

Recently I heard Blake Mycoskie give a Keynote speech at a conference for corporate executives. I had read his book, Start Something That Matters, so I was familiar with how he created TOMS Shoes and the One for One campaign. Despite this, I was moved by his passion, honesty and sense of humor. Hearing him share his story in person was engaging and an inspiration.

Even if you have no aspirations of being a Keynote speaker, there are a few sure-fire ways to leave an impression on your audience. In the spirit of the New Year, I’ve created a list of “top 10” ways to share your story and engage the crowd.

1. Walk in the shoes of your audience
Whether you are speaking at a conference or your weekly team meeting, it’s important to know the needs of your audience. Some quick research can reveal their challenges, what they hope to get out of the meeting or event; and what solutions they need most. Addressing these points in your presentation is sure to leave a great impression.

2. Prepare for game day
Professional athletes have curfew the night before a game and so should you. Instead of staying up all night tweaking your slides and rehearsing your content, get a good night’s sleep. If you feel great, you will be at the top of your game.

3. Channel your inner rock star
I’ve talked about strutting like Beyonce before, but there’s one thing that can be learned from rock stars: confidence. Have some swagger. (or moves like Jagger). When fear creeps up take a few deep breaths, remember that you are the expert and then command the stage like your favorite artist.

4. Share examples
When writing your talk, try to include examples that apply to every day life. If you are giving a talk on time management, share an example of kids being late to school or missing a deadline at work. Using examples that are applicable to everyone will wow the crowd.

5. Keep it interactive
Keep the audience engaged by getting them involved in your presentation. Take a poll or ask the audience questions to break up the content and keep them from getting restless.

6. Stand up
Standing raises your energy level, which is automatically reflected in your voice. If you are presenting over the phone, get a headset so you can stand while delivering your presentation. Hearing your energy keeps an audience engaged and awake.

7. Surprise and delight the audience by creating a memorable experience. Give away a gift card to someone who asks a question; incorporate music into your presentation or move through the audience. Find ways to be unique and keep the presentation fresh.

8. Keep it simple
When writing your presentation stick to 3-5 key points you want to address. Begin by thinking about what you want the audience to walk away with and reverse engineer the content from there.

9. Be transparent

You are the expert on your subject. But you didn’t become an expert without failing along the way. Sharing an example of a customer service issue gone wrong, a failed product launch or other missed opportunity builds trust and credibility.

10. Let go of perfection

Delivering your speech may not go as smooth as you planned it. You may not hit every talking point the way you rehearsed and tech issues happen more often than we’d like them to.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your best tip for delivering a presentation with impact? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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