B is for Brilliant

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Sections of this topic

    We have begun to explore the qualities of great presenters, starting with A and going all the way to Z. In each post I will list one or several attributes of great presenters and communicators, and suggest some ways you can build that characteristic in your own speaking.

    If you want to play along, suggest your own great words starting with the letter for that week. Better yet, help me out by suggesting a word for the next letter of the alphabet! And let me know how you are using these ideas to build your own habits and characteristics for great speaking.

    B is for

    Brilliant. Brilliance is original thought, fresh ideas, spoken clearly and uniquely. It is not canned, not wooden, not predictable. It does not rely on canned phrases or routines. Maybe you start with a compelling question, instead of starting with “I am happy to be here.” Maybe you draw on a flip chart instead of showing a slide. Maybe you get the whole room laughing instead of being bored to tears. That’s brilliant!

    Beautiful. Beautiful slides and graphics, that is. We all know the dreaded bullet-pointed, over stuffed, predictable slides are just plain ugly. Clean them up. Simplify them. Add a few beautiful photos. If you don’t know how to do this, read Garr Reynold’s terrific book Presentation Zen. Or ask someone with a good eye to help you reinvent yours. There is just no excuse for ugly, boring slides and this is one area where you can succeed where so many speakers fail.

    Be there now. This is a key concept often spoken by one of my favorite clients. To them it means to pay attention to customers, and in interactions with colleagues. It also has meaning for us as communicators. It means eliminating the little voice in your head that distracts you. Refusing to think about whether you will make a mistake or not. Not worrying about the outcome. Just being in the presentation, at the present moment.

    Brief. At a recent conference, nearly every speaker said they wanted to have an interactive discussion with the audience. But they lectured nearly to the end of their presentation, then lamented not having enough time for questions or discussion. Today, presentations are shorter than ever. I recently heard of a company where most presentations are five minutes long! How brief can you be? Tighten it up, then tighten it up some more. Especially if you tend to “run on.”

    What other “B” words come to mind when you think about great presenting? What other words would you like to hear more about starting with any letter?