Five Ways to Keep It Simple

Stewart Bewley

I had spent five months planning for this job with my co-coach Gemma Hunt (Gemma has presented on TV for the past 20 years and presented live to Queen Elizabeth II and Sir David Attenborough). We knew that during one of the sessions I was going to find a volunteer from the sea of 1,500 faces, bring them up on stage with me and coach them, live. There was no back up plan, This had to work. I had to keep it simple.

The most powerful presentations are the simplest. How can you keep it simple when you communicate to the room in front of you—whether it is your line mamager or an audience of 1,500? Here are five ways to do it.

01 Practise your non-negotiables

When I stepped up to coach Bo—who had volunteered to be coached live in front of a room of 1,500 people—I knew I had to:

  • Get her to present her story in 60 seconds on the microphone to the entire room
  • Coach her to do two presentation technique exercises
  • Get the room to do the exercises with her so she didn’t feel exposed
  • Get her to represent her story
  • Get feedback from the room on what they loved about it

If I didn’t achieve these things I would have failed as a coach. These were my non-negotiables. Beginning, middle and end parts. I have coached hundreds of times over the past 12 years—I have practised my non-negotiables. I know what works.

How do you do that? Practise your presentation and decide what works, when to stick to it and fight for it.

02 Tell one moment at a time

I knew that by the end of my seven-minute coaching session with Bo, she was going to re-present with much more confidence. I had to see each minute with her like a staircase. I had to take her up that staircase step by step, moment by moment. If I had leapt ahead she would have tumbled over herself and the coaching would have been a disaster.

Often when we present we see the end—the solution—and we leap there. In panic. But we mustn’t do that. Map out your presentations like they are a staircase. Decide what goes into each stair and then commit yourself to not leaping ahead.

03 Deliver one sentence at a time

Often when I coach someone, they finish their 30-second ‘this is what I sound like’ pitch and I pause and say: ‘That is the longest sentence I have heard all day.’

When they speak, people tend to deliver their presentation like it is one long sentence—a shopping list they need to complete. The problem with this is that, as an audience, we feel like we are wasting your time. You are rushing through to get the shopping in the car and get home! The answer: as you deliver, deliver your presentation one sentence at a time. Speak in short sentences and over-pronounce your words. It will slow you down to a good presentation pace and will help you hear if the audience are with you.

When I was coaching Mo, I did this very deliberately. And that meant that I could read the room. If you can read the room you can own the room.

04 Deliver to your audience—one person at a time

Sometimes I was presenting to Bo, asking her to do certain exercises. Other times I was presenting to the person sat on a table right in front of me in the audience. When I was asking for feedback I was presenting to people who were far, far away from me. But each time I just focused on that one person. I remember Gem telling me as we were preparing, ‘You are only ever presenting to one person at a time.’

If you are directing your body language, your eyes and your voice towards one person, everyone else will follow. It works. Trust me.

05 End well

Nobody likes a bad ending but everyone remembers it. So how do you end well? Find your closing sentence, perhaps ‘Thank you’ or ‘I will now take your questions’ and stick with it. Deliver it and let the moment end.

If you apply and practise these five principles in your meetings, regardless of where you are or how many people are there, you will always present with confidence. You can’t control your audience but you can control what you bring to them.

You can’t make them listen but you can speak with such confidence that they will get drawn in. Go for it—and let me know which one worked the best for you!

Stewart Bewley

Stewart founded Amplify back in 2011 from an acting background, believing that if you unlocked people’s voices you would unlock their story and their businesses would thrive.

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