Speaking to a group of people is a challenge that terrifies most people — and it’s really terrifying if you’re an entrepreneur whose fate lies in your next big presentation. The idea that hundreds (or thousands) of people are watching your every move is downright nerve-wracking. But the ability to control and perfect one’s delivery in presentations is a rare and powerful skill that only a handful of people possess.
Before taking the stage at your next public speaking engagement, take a deep breath and learn from the best. I’ve compiled some of the strongest examples of public speaking that can be easily emulated by the everyday presenter. Here are 5 all-star orators to look to for guidance, and the attributes you can include in your next speech to excel on the mic:
- Steve Jobs: Relevance. The late Steve Jobs is a prime candidate for presentation case studies because when on stage, he is articulate, nimble and steadfast. Yet one of the most overlooked qualities was his ability to make even the most high-brow, technological jargon sound simplistic and even fun. For example, when introducing the iPhone in 2007, Jobs showcased and reviewed each product beforehand. He primed the audience for the complexity of the iPhone by showing its relevance to the previous products. Keep relevance in mind in your next presentation; it creates cohesiveness and resonance.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Inspiration. MLK was not only a fantastic orator, but he was also a phenomenal leader in a controversial movement, which gives him the attribute of inspiration. In his famous I Have A Dream speech, King is bold and declarative in his message — but more importantly, he features a call to action within his words. By setting an agenda with purpose behind it, he has given the crowd a clear direction and a path to results. He provided a solution to their hardships, and they followed him passionately. While you may not be rallying troops for a revolution, it is important to remember that every presentation needs a call to action. Without a sense of purpose and direction, you are just saying words.
- Tony Hsieh: Conversation. As the CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh is celebrated as an entrepreneur who brings a youthful glow to the business world. His company culture models have been written about and discussed in many circles, and his views on leadership are revered. What Tony brings to the table is the attribute of conversation in presentations. He talks to the audience as if they were in his living room, which makes them feel more comfortable and, therefore, more receptive to his message. Remember not to talk down to your audience; put yourself on the same level as the crowd and have a conversation. Audience engagement yields interactivity, which empowers the audience and increases your rapport with them.
- Chris Rock: Entertainment. Chris Rock is a legend on the comedy scene. He’s known internationally for his stand-up, as well as his big screen endeavors. Humor is a particularly powerful form of entertainment that can mold an audience’s perception, and Rock uses it to keep his audience intrigued and excited to receive his message. He is dominant but playful in his performances. Always remember the power of humor in your presentation; it warms the audience to your message and keeps them excited.
- Bill Clinton: Storytelling. Our 42nd President is regarded as a highly talented speaker and leader. One of Clinton’s strongest attributes is his ability to tell stories that enable the audience to be a part of the story themselves. By immersing the audience in a narrative — as shown in his 2007 Harvard commencement speech – they can truly experience the topic at hand, which gives them a sense of empowerment. And an empowered audience listens well and receives messages with more gusto because they feel as if they are more directly involved.
Everyone has a distinct way that they like to and are able to present, so use these cases as models for your own style of presenting. It is up to you to determine which attributes are favorable to your style, and to what degree you should apply them. If you embody at least some of these attributes, your next presentation will be solid, fresh and unique.
At 21 years old, Kenny Nguyen is the CEO/Founder of Big Fish Presentations, a presentation company that does presentation design, presentation consulting and commercial video production. The company has recently been featured in Inc. Magazine as one of 2012′s Coolest College Startups, and hosts the blog Hook-Line-N-Sinker for presenters.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.