Part Two – During the event.

You’re there in the room and people are eagerly waiting for you to speak (or not!) What are you going to do? Well, your pitch planning and understanding of the why, what, who and how (from part one) should set you up to deliver a great pitch or presentation. But let’s take a look at the big moment itself.

Your opening lines…

There is sufficient research to suggest that we tend to mimic the behaviour of those around us, either consciously or unconsciously. This means that your positivity, or lack of it, will likely be picked up by your audience and quickly spread to others. When you start, with all eyes on you, your first few words are your big chance to set the tone and emotion for your talk.

You should already have your opening lines prepared, but make sure they are delivered in the exact way that you want.

Overcoming the nerves

Nerves can of course be an issue in the big moment and it’s important to be aware of our physical reactions to any sense of pressure or anxiety as our pitch approaches. Such feelings can be the result of our own labelling or interpretation of our physiology rather than a reflection of the reality. Indeed, there is a growing research into ‘anxious reappraisal’ – the notion that through reengineered labelling, we can tell ourselves that we’re not anxious or scared, but excited instead!

The basic premise is that the physiological response to both anxiety and excitement are the same (rushes of blood, dilated pupils, sweaty palms, etc.) but the emotional labelling is different and can therefore impact our interpretation of our physical reactions. So, keep telling yourself – ‘It’s excitement, not fear.’ You’ll probably feel better about beginning your talk.

Get going - Communicate clearly and assertively

We’ve taken a few WiseAmigo Elements and extrapolated some of the behaviours underpinning each. As you’re communicating, make sure you’re ticking as many of the following as possible.

  • Be clear and articulate. Use simple language. Take your time and deep breadths to make sure you’re explaining things in a way that’s easy for your audience to digest. Avoid jargon and acronyms wherever possible.
  • Try to make your points quickly. Be succinct. It’s easy to start waffling, especially if the topic being presented is close to our heart or area of interest. We can stray and start to cover more than is possible in the time we have. Be careful of the time you allocate to each aspect of your presentation, slide or examples you’re using.
  • Check that others understand what you’re saying and regularly ask questions. It’s easy to lose an audience if they don’t quite follow something and better to check in with them rather than carry on regardless. Be vigilant of puzzled faces and where needed, ask your audience if things are making sense. If anything, it’ll help generate interaction with the group, help people find their voice and engage with you.
  • Vary your tone and pitch according to what you’re covering in your presentation. Heighten your pitch when starting a new point to help break up your delivery. Mix your tone from humorous to serious, relaxed to purposeful – it’ll help keep your audience engaged and on their toes.
  • Give it some! Inject energy and enthusiasm to your talk and make sure your passion is flowing through to your audience. This is critical, as even if people don’t quite get certain aspects of your argument or even agree with you, they could be won over by your emotional commitment. Furthermore, often even when people understand the rationale and logic of your case, they still need to be won over with enthusiasm.

Are you not entertained?

Always be empathising with your audience. Always be asking yourself what is landing, what reaction are you getting. And keep it entertaining with frequent light-hearted moments, even if your topic is a serious one. If people are giving up 15+ minutes of their time to listen to us, we better entertain too!

Make it memorable

I’ve often used the quote by Carl W Buehner: ‘They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.’

Make sure people remember you by appealing to something within your audience that is interesting and important to them. Be authentic, genuine – show that you believe in what you’re saying. Mix it with an entertaining, professional and clear talk and you’ll be well on your way to delivering the great speech you want.

Speaking of memorable, take a look at Al Pacino’s “Inch by Inch” speech as coach Tony D’Amato. Not every pitch will be like this, but hopefully you’ll recognise the ingredients mentioned above.

Now – Go and present!

Jump forward to Part three: After the talk. For now we hope you’ve enjoyed part two.

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Pixabay and Dreamworks on CC BY