Communication Tips To Ace Your Next Talk

When I was preparing my slides for last week’s session for Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad (TalentCorp) Women’s Career Convention, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say. It wasn’t as if I had nothing to say; in fact, my problem was – I had too much to say!

Communication is a big topic and one that can be discussed and explained at length but I am not the type to give reams of data or present what’s already been said. I like to intrigue my audience by asking them to guess (yesterday’s audience did a lot of guessing and answering!)

One thing I find common is that many people default to popularly cited examples during sessions where they are asked to share.

How many times have you heard about the innovation at Apple or the brilliance of Steve Jobs (or his mad creativity)? How many times have you heard about the success of Alibaba or some big-name company that you’ve only seen in the news?

I remember that someone once said, if others zig, you zag. That’s how you become memorable. That’s how you make an impression that lasts.

Here’s something that I’d like you to try the next time you are asked to speak.

Use your own examples.

For my presentations (actually for all my presentations since I started speaking publicly in 2005) I always use my own examples, stories and anecdotes. I know my stories best. I know what I want to illustrate when I tell a story that happened to me. I often use my clients’ stories as well because their stories are intricately woven with mine.

Many of us don’t think we have interesting or exciting stories or examples. We all do. You need to think about specific concepts you want to illustrate and then go back into your memory and find that story that exemplifies the concept.

You could also prompt yourself by asking, “When was the time when I felt….?” Emotional responses can jolt your memory too. When was the last time you felt upset/joyful/frustrated? It is in our emotions that we find the best stories and the best learning.

Besides stories of my own, I also use my own images in my slide decks. When there isn’t a suitable image, I will use a stock image and even then, the image must represent the concept I am referring to.

I use my own stories and images because they’re mine, they’re real and they’re relatable. Gone are the days when every image has to look slick and polished; now you can be forgiven if your image looks a little “homemade” but your audience always appreciates honesty.

After more than 70 talks and presentations online and offline over the years, I found that nothing creates more trust and credibility in a speaker than using the resources that you as a speaker already possess!

The next time you are asked to give a talk, stop and ask yourself, “What resources/experiences/images do I have that I can share in all honesty with my audience?” By doing so, you make yourself instantly relatable and human. And people listen to real people.

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