Even Bono Prepares His Speech

Kathy Rapp Communication, Conferences, Influence, Kathy Rapp, Personal Brand, Pop Culture

My husband has always had the hots for Jacqueline Bisset. So when she won for Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes recently, he couldn’t wait to check her out… ummm, I mean listen to what she was going to say.

My husband no longer has the hots for Jacqueline Bisset.

For those of you who missed it, after taking 48 seconds to get to the stage (not entirely her fault), she was speechless and a bit clueless. Blame it on the alcohol if you want, but I think it was a case of lack of preparation.

I don’t care who you are and how wonderful a public speaker you may be; everyone has to give some thought to giving a speech/presentation. Bono, U2 frontman served as the perfect example.

It’s now award season and presentation season for those of us in HR, so here are 4 tips to ensure you are applauded vs. ridiculed—or worse yet, ignored.

#1 Get Over Yourself – Yes, you may have won multiple awards or been asked to present at numerous conferences, but you still are just one of many on the agenda. There’s nothing worse than being excited to hear a well-thought-of presenter to find him/her regurgitating material from last year. Get over yourself and recognize it’s not just YOU people want to hear, it’s the relevance of what you are talking about. Make sure your content is recent, relevant and rocks!

#2 Less Is Magnificent – This applies to the number of slides, amount of silly games, text and personal stories that have no bearing on your topic. Most conferences ask presenters to upload their prez prior to the event. I totally pick who I’m going to see based on the topic and slide deck. If all I see are words—pass. If there are more than 30 slides for an hour presentation—later. If the topic tries to cover “War and Peace” AND “Moby Dick”—not a chance in hell.

And in the case of award shows, my guy friends want to enforce this tip on female attire as well. Go figure.

#3 Engage – You’ve got to connect with your audience, period. The celebs shed tears or make self-deprecating jokes. For HR pros, tell your story. How did you get into this wacky field? What does your kid think you do every day? What’s the most bizarre HR situation you’ve dealt with that relates to your topic?

Stories are revealing and put you on the same level as your audience.

#4 Presentation Matters – I’m not talking about having flash animation in your deck, but rather how you present yourself. Don’t stand behind the podium reading off your computer, head down, glasses on. Don’t wear a tired suit as bland as the stark walls and ugly carpet in the conference center. I am notorious for wearing what I believe is a hip outfit only to realize I have no place to hook the lavalier pack. Don’t do that. OR, my new kick-ass heels are too new and I end up slipping and sliding as I walk around, leaving my audience to wonder if I have vodka in my water bottle.

This is the stuff that gets noticed and can be distracting. So paint your nails, get a haircut, wear appropriate clothes. People want to look at you for an hour… and move around for goodness sake!

Think about how quickly the reason Jacqueline Bisset was at the podium to start with was forgotten because she appeared disheveled and ill-prepared. Work to capture your audience’s attention right away—and if all else fails—throw one of your kiss-ass new heels at anyone who even thinks about leaving before you’ve said all you need

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to say!