Three Golden Techniques to Natural, Persuasive Presentations

When it comes to persuading others through our talks and presentations, what works best is always what comes across as real.

The wisest sales gurus have told us all along that everyone really wants to be persuaded and convinced to follow any presenter’s idea – but that we need that person to earn the right to our acceptance.

In that vein, someone’s objections to a sales pitch are really asking you to make it more convincing and real to them, so they can rationalize going along with the plan.

Persuading others to change their minds and consider something new, therefore,  is the process of making the experience real and convincing.

CAN YOU BE REAL WITH A TELEPROMPTER?

In my 4+ decades of directing and producing film and video productions, I’ve come to the conclusion that using a teleprompter as a crutch to speak on camera seldom works out well in the long run.

Even for seasoned TV newscasters and actors,  it’s still often distracting as the eyes dart back and forth…

…the neck and head look stiff as the speaker focuses on following the words on the teleprompter screen…

…it’s tough to coordinate moving the body to planned spots, such as walking over to a screen or whiteboard, when trying to read the next line…

…and an unexpected change in the teleprompter operator’s pace of rolling the words up the screen can throw anyone off, especially when the mechanism jams.

In other words, the clearly noticeable process of presenting distracts your attention, rather than being able to focus on the meaning of the words as they relate to your life.

THERE’S A BETTER WAY TO PROMPT YOURSELF

If you must stay on camera and talk for minutes at a time for whatever reason (such as being on stage in front of a big audience), then an easier, more “real” technique is to use an audio prompter.

Simply record your script on your smart phone with a standard recording app, speaking the words aloud as naturally and interestingly as you can, and redoing any line that didn’t come out right.  Key:  Make sure your recording has just the right pace and energy as you expect the finished performance to be.

On camera, play back your script and listen through an earpiece (wireless Bluetooth or just run the wire up the back of your clothes and hide it in your hair)….imitating what you’re hearing as you talk a fraction of a second behind your recorded voice.

Some people can’t handle this approach, but those who can do this technique easily will look and sound natural and make you look in command.

Yet…I can count on one hand all the speakers I’ve worked with over the years who can make us think there’s no teleprompter or any prompting – just a dang amazing and smart expert.

For the 95% or more who can’t be totally natural with either type of prompting, you must know that viewers willing to spend thousands of dollars for a solution to their urgent problems are certainly not looking for a coach who doesn’t know his or her subject and content enough to get on camera and talk persuasively without a script.

THE THREE GOLDEN SPEAKING TECHNIQUES

So let me share with you the most valuable speaking aloud techniques I’ve taught on-camera and on-microphone actors and performers over the years (some you’d recognize on TV).

Technique #1 – YOU HAVE TO KNOW IT TO SHOW IT

Practice your ideal “elevator” pitch and most important statements about the audience’s problem and your solution until you can talk persuasively about them at a moment’s notice.

These words are based on what your surveyed ideal prospects and customers told you – in their words – about their pains, fears, needs, and wants.

You are “mirroring” their exact message so they can spot you amid the millions of shiny objects on the Internet, and stop to engage with your emotionally resonating message and programs.

The pitch or “position statement” is most immediately effective in this basic format:

I help (succinct, specific description of your ideal prospect) solve (a specific urgent problem or need) and they can get (tangible net result and benefit) using my (unique, proprietary, etc. method or technique).

You must say it convincingly and without hesitation to develop the quick trust that people are always ready to give someone who passes the test of obviously knowing what you’re talking about.

Your confidence, your use of their emotional trigger words, and you ability to explain their ideas solution will solve the “know you, get you, buy from you” trust-building process that drops barriers to buying your programs and becoming your loyal tribe (thank you, Feminine Sales Power Coach Sara Michaels, for that trust-worthy trio).

I’ve pulled the next two critical techniques from a watershed 1949 book by Nedra Newkirk Lamar, called “How to Speak the Written Word.”  She teaches how to read aloud from the Bible (not easy), and her techniques work for any kind of public speaking.  Her book was vital in developing my writing and speaking skills.

Technique #2 — PHRASE WORDS TOGETHER

In every sentence there are words that relate together more than to others…such as “In every sentence.”  A 3-word phrase is not 3 separate ideas, but one single concept or mental image.  So look for related word groupings and read them as connected, giving ever-so-slight pause afterwards to honor the phrase.

Again, it seems obvious, but many readers and public speakers maintain a steady pace that doesn’t help listeners process the story easily and visually.

It’s so much more interesting to slightly alter the pace to make phrases a clear visual idea, sometimes pausing briefly afterward for effect.

Want proof? Take a few minutes and try this EXERCISE I’ve used to help uninteresting speakers liven up their presentations.

Try reading aloud the quoted words below as you record your voice on your smart phone (using the recording app I recommended above). Force yourself for this exercise to maintain an artificially steady pace for all words and not emphasize any particular word or phrase:

“Most people in general can’t end their habit of procrastination merely by telling oneself to ‘just do it,’ because that ill-considered advice applies only to the 3% of us who are natural, fearless self-starters. What most  people need instead is a patient mentor or coach who guides one through a specific process to uncover limiting assumptions so you can consciously replace them with new ways to think and behave.”

Now play it back – and you’ll agree that reading at a steady pace without proper emphasis and phrasing is clearly boring, and not how you’d want your book put on audio, for example.

Then notice how much less energy you hear than what you thought you were putting into your reading.  (That’s a lesson for another day.)

So now read that paragraph aloud again and record it too – this time, emphasize the blue phrases and treating each one as a single idea, pausing briefly before continuing:

“Most people in general can’t end their habit of procrastination merely by telling themselves to ‘just do it,’ because that ill-considered advice applies ONLY to the 3 percent of us who are natural, fearless self-starters. What most people need instead is a patient mentor or coach who guides them through a specific process to uncover limiting assumptions, so they can consciously replace them with new and more productive ways to think and behave.”

Did you find yourself slightly pausing after each phrase?  That’s the natural sense of dramatic emphasis that the words themselves tell you.

And finally, the third critical technique for reading aloud that enhances understanding and effect is…

Technique #3 — EMPHASIZE NEW IDEAS

In every sentence there are new ideas appearing here and there as the information or story evolves.

Whatever was already mentioned before is not new and thus should be subdued in terms of pitch and tone emphasis, to direct attention to the new idea you’re introducing.

“I want to introduce my NEW BOOK…” works fine the first mention of it, but then you subdue those words in subsequent sentences.

If you next say “It’s an Amazon best seller!” – now you have something new to emphasize.

Sounds obvious…but so many who read and speak aloud don’t take advantage of emphasis to lead listeners down the right path with the right conclusions…and thus the uninspired, almost monotone performances that don’t move us.

So let’s go back to our practice paragraph once more, this time keep the phrasing but now add more emphasis for the words in red:

“Most people in general can’t end their habit of procrastination merely by telling themselves to ‘just do it,’ because that ill-considered advice applies ONLY to the 3 percent of us who are natural, fearless self-starters.  What most people need instead is a patient mentor or coach who guides them through a specific process to uncover limiting assumptions, so they can consciously replace them with new and more productive ways to think and behave.”

Do you find yourself pausing slightly after each emphasis word?  That’s the natural way to let each get the focus and sink in.

If you will give emphasis and phrasing a good workout — embrace them as your natural way to communicate — you’ll find your public reception will clearly improve.

Nothing like a good story told with compelling emphasis and phrasing.

Know it to show it…phrase words together…and emphasize new ideas…three golden techniques to be a powerful, persuasive speaker and influencer.

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