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Being an engaging speaker and presenter

Personal Growth
Internal Communication
Coaching / Training / Mentorship

16 April, 2018

David Murray
David Murray

Cofounder at Confirm

David has used tactics from his many years of performing professionally, including his college degree in Voice Performance, to often speak and present to his company in an engaging, entertaining way that ensured his messages got across.

Problem

It can oftentimes be important to train or educate employees on something that may be uninteresting to them. In addition, while discussing the business, engineers that like to build things may also lose focus, resulting in them not understanding the high level needs of the products they are building. This can result in suboptimal day-to-day decision-making for them.

Actions taken

Similar to acting, there are multiple techniques and strategies to perform as an engineering manager. A "method acting" approach, in which you aspire to complete emotional identification with the topic you're presenting, is a great start, particularly if you find yourself getting easily passionate about things. The more passionate you are, the more likely this will read to your audience. I try to use this approach with most presentations I give, finding a way to actually care about the content at hand. This has been easy for product and business success-related topics. That said, you may at times have to present on a topic that is dry or uninteresting to you. For me, I find that presenting to new hires a description of what our organization does can be a challenge to sound as passionate about. In these situations, I employ techniques I've learned from my Voice Performance degree, including "pregnant pauses", playing with volume levels, using humor, eye contact, smiles, and asking questions of my audience. Finally, in the spirit of generating trust and focus for those that are listening, I aim to share vulnerably wherever I can, in hopes of generating oxytocin in them which will make it more likely that they'll be emotionally engaged in what I'm saying. This isn't always easy, but practice makes perfect.

Lessons learned

Being an engaging presenter, storyteller, or speaker can be done by either emotionally connecting to the material or using "acting hacks" to engage your audience. If you can do both of these things and also be vulnerable with your audience, you'll be most likely to engage them.

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