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January 20, 2021 4 min read
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As entrepreneurs and business leaders, the effectiveness of your communication skills can make a diference. Here are six easy ways to stand out and wow your audience so people will remember your key messages.
1. Open with a bang
There are dozens of ways to start your virtual presentation with a bang. To name a few….
- Ask a provocative question or make a provocative statement.
- Surprise your participants with a fact they do not know.
- Hold up a prop and tell a short story that connects it to your presentation.
Because it’s a virtual presentation, you should also consider starting your meeting with five to 10 minutes of rapport-building rapport, connecting with your audience and asking questions about how they feel. It’s so important for people to share their voice. Remember: People do not care how much you know; they want to know how much you care. Connection before content is vital to succeeding in the virtual world.
Related: Never Zoom Alone
2. Grab their attention with small surprises and pattern interrupts
TED speakers Daniel Gilbert and Matt Killingsworth discovered we wander off in our thoughts and fail to be present almost half the time. The best way to help someone be focused is to incorporate elements of surprise throughout your interaction. To grab your customers’ attention, surprise them with small scene changes throughout the meeting.
Let’s say you are screen-sharing a PowerPoint presentation. Don’t make the fatal mistake of talking for 30 minutes straight, strictly focusing on the PowerPoint. Instead, stop sharing your screen every four to six minutes, and start communicating directly with your customer. Speak direct to the camera and talk with them. Connect, then influence.
You may also use the concept of pattern interrupt, or stopping your audience in its tracks and engaging them with something that’s the opposite of what they expected. For example, during a kickoff meeting of your next sales campaign, ask your team, “How can we make our customers leave us in 2021?”
3. Use a whiteboard tool
I have participated in hundreds of virtual presentations, and the whiteboard tool was used in fewer than 20% of them. Big mistake. In a set of experiments performed at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Professor Zakary Tormala found that whiteboard presentations significantly outperformed PowerPoint-style presentations, on average facilitating a 9% improvement in engagement, and articipants reported better understanding the messages and enjoying the process.
Their study also revealed that whiteboard presentations improved recall of messages by 16% and enhanced the message’s total persuasive impact by 8%.
So, use whiteboard sharing to “interrupt” your PowerPoint slides. Use it as a collaboration tool. Let participants add their ideas.
4. Use props and visual elements
Props strengthen your message. Every time you bring a prop or surprising object to your virtual meeting, you engage your customer. That helps make the message you are delivering unforgettable. That’s wow in action.
5. Tell “half-stories”
One way to keep folks’ attention is to use the principle of curiosity. Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that people remember unfinished or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. Other studies have taught us that people are eager to meet “unfinished stories.” How can you apply that concept? Start using a story, then stop in the middle, and promise to finish it later. Now you’ve got them, and they will keep listening until you close the loop and finish the story.
6. Show up and stand up
The last way to wow in your next virtual presentation is easy: If you can put your laptop on a high desk, or have access to a standing desk, you can easily upgrade your virtual meeting’s energy. When you deliver your messages while standing, you boost your level of energy and enthusiasm, and your body language tends to be more open and free. That energy can help you better influence and lead for actions.
Remember: It’s wow or never!