Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to be invited to the christening of a friend’s daughter. I don’t often go to church so before I got to the venue I was beginning to dread the usual clichés: that the service would be long, boring and dull and that the vicar would witter on about things that I have no interest in.
As it happened, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The service was short, sweet and to the point and the vicar was both professional and entertaining. I think anyone could have learnt a trick or two from a seemingly simple christening service and the vicar demonstrated a number of sound presentation skills:
Know your audience
It was clear from the outset that the vicar knew his audience. There was a real mix of guests (religious and non-religous, old and young) and he made sure he delivered a service that appealed to as many of us as possible. He thought about things from the audience’s perspective and presented in a style that engaged as many of us as possible.
Tell a story
Reciting extracts from the bible without a clear context is likely to disengage a mixed audience. So the vicar used stories and a straightforward narrative about the christening and the baby’s spiritual journey to grab our attention and create an emotional connection with the audience.
The vicar used a little magic, open questions and audience participation to spark our interests and keep us engaged. He asked us to try and remember about 20 words that he reeled off in one go. Individually, we could only remember about ten at the most. But collectively we could recall all twenty – a reminder that together we can do more and help one another.
Project your voice
A sure fire way to bore your audience is to mumble or talk too quietly. No matter how interesting you are, if nobody can hear what you’re saying they’re likely to switch off. Although the vicar had a microphone he didn’t need to use it. He stood up straight and projected his voice from his lungs rather than his throat to produce a clearer sound so everyone could hear.
A speaker that relies too heavily on notes and is constantly looking down clearly doesn’t know their subject and this lack of confidence will be picked up by the audience. The vicar (unsurprisingly, I suppose!) knew his subject off-by-heart and was therefore able to deliver a flowing, confident, seamless service.
Overall I had great time at the christening and came away from the service feeling both enlightened and educated – a clear sign that the vicar had presented well and done his job!
When I think of great presenters Steve Jobs is a perfect example. His ability to present in a simple but remarkably effective way (with genuine passion and verve) is fascinating. Check out his iPhone keynote speech from 2007 – considered one of his best.
What do you look for in a great presentation? Do you have any presentation hints and tips you’d like to offer?