Presentation Skills Tips: Use Your Own Voice

You may be asking yourself “well, what else would I use?”  But you might be surprised.

We’ve seen presentations that turned into disasters because speakers tried to adopt a persona that didn’t fit them, and one truly bizarre talk where a featured speaker cancelled at the last moment and someone else read the prepared speech in the voice of the absent presenter.  Whatever you do, don’t ever agree to give a talk where you have to impersonate someone else.

In some ways using your own voice is another example of how important your tone is in your presentation;  it’s hard to sound sincere if you try to sound like someone you’re not, if you try to use a vocabulary you’re not comfortable with or try to be funny if it doesn’t come naturally to you.  Audiences are likely to see through you and be put off by this kind of performance– and an alienated audience is one that’s unlikely to be persuaded.

It’s also extremely hard to do a good job of delivering a presentation that sounds as if it was written for someone else.  We’ve been involved in training projects where clients have wanted to have one script for a class that was going to be delivered word-by-word by several trainers at different sessions.  Clients have a good reason for doing this– they want to ensure consistency and that all of their learners are receiving the same message.  But it almost never works out very well.  It’s much harder to remember even the outline of a presentation that has been written by someone else– so the delivery can come across as stilted.  And having a generic presentation eliminates a lot of the personal stories and interactions that are so important to engaging your audience.

In these kinds of situations we always encourage trainers to take a basic outline and personalize it to suit their own strengths and experiences.  This issue of “voice” can also be a challenge for executive types who often have their presentations created for them by someone else.  They need to make sure that they work with their teams so that the tone of the presentation sounds like them and they need to rehearse so they know the material.

Even a CEO should try to sound like herself rather than the hive mind voice of a marketing team.

 

 

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