« 5. EQ skills: Don't give a presentation »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She is the author of "Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking" and is one of only 800 people in the world with the highest level of accreditation in the professional speaking industry - CSP - Certified Speaking Professional.

When you apply the skills of emotional intelligence to public speaking it can turn the whole idea of "giving a presentation" on its head.

Engage your audience

Have you ever thought that you aren't "giving" when you are with an audience?

Giving sounds such a one-way trade, to me. I am sure it is the wrong verb.

You are not "Giving a presentation" you are educating, engaging and inspiring an audience.

Well that is what is meant to happen, but sadly too many people think they are just giving information.

And they do just that, they give information, leave it in the audience's laps whether they are interested in it or not, have no idea who has learnt what, walk off the stage, and think they have done a good job. Wrong.

Here is what you really need to do to be a successful public speaker and presenter. It has far more to do with emotions, emotional intelligence and managing an audience than you might have thought.

EQ skills 1: Focus on the audience

You need to focus on the audience not on yourself.

"Giving a presentation" is too focused on the presenter and not the audience.

Everything you do is for the audience.

No audience, no presentation. You talk - the audience sleeps - no presentation. 

Focus on the audience.

READ your audience.
RELATE to your audience.
RESPOND to your audience.
READJUST to your audience.
RECOVER if you've lost your audience.

These all require skills of emotional intelligence.

Want to engage your audience more easily and make your presentations more interesting? Book into our public speaking development package.

EQ skills 2: Engage the audience

Presentations and public speaking are not "giving information", we can send an e-mail to do that. Presentations are concerned with getting your audience engaged with your content, however dry you may think it is. The drier the topic is the more you must work to engage the audience.

You are a facilitator of audience engagement. Your job is to inspire your audience to want to engage with your content, to be interested in it, to think about it, to be curious about it, to be fascinated by it and to be determined to use it. 

This is far more than "giving", it is a mutual journey. Together you work through the material. Together you think it through. Together you work out how to use and apply it.

Do not give a presentation, facilitate audience engagement with your content. This all requires emotional intelligence.

EQ skills 3: Stimulate the emotions of the audience

Engagement is knowledge plus emotions. If you want the audience to do anything with your ideas or information you need to provide the stimulation they need to feel interested in the material, or anxious about it, or enthusiastic about it.

Why? Because knowledge on its own does not drive behaviour. This is a foundation tenet of emotional intelligence.

It is emotions plus knowledge that drives behaviour. You ignore the emotions of your audience at your cost.

You could have spent days preparing your content and making sure you know everything about your content and material. Then when you are delivering it you bore the audience and find they stop paying attention to you. They are no longer listening. In this case you have just wasted all that time preparing. 

  • If all we needed was information to change our behaviour then no one in Australia would smoke. We all know smoking kills.
  • If all we needed was information to change our behaviour then no one in Australia would speed, we all know speed kills.
  • If all we needed was information to change our behaviour then no one in Australia would drink too much alcohol, because we all know it is bad for us.

So why do so many of us continue to be involved in such activities?

EQ skills 4: Focus on engaging the emotions of the audience

It is the emotions that we bring to the information that change our behaviour. This is why when you are presenting you need to focus upon the emotions of your audience.

  • If I feel relaxed when I smoke and tense when I don't, unless I have another way of relaxing I am likely to smoke.
  • If I am scared about being caught speeding I am far more likely to slow down than if I feel confident I won't get caught.
  • If I love a glass of wine on a hot summer's night and feel fantastic after four glasses, I am likely to drink it when I want to feel fantastic.

Your job as a presenter is to engage your audience and in order to do this you have to engage their emotions.

And, you have to stimulate the emotions that will best help the audience interact with your material.

Boredom and restlessness are not the emotions that lead to engagement. You need to use your emotional intelligence skills to evoke the emotions that matter.

Want to improve your confidence as a public speaker so your audience wants to listen to you? Book into our public speaking development package

EQ skills 5: Help the audience learn and retain

You are facilitating learning not "giving a presentation".

There is no point in "giving information" if your audience does not remember it once they have walked out of the door. There is no point in giving information if your audience simply puts it in their filing cabinet and never thinks about it again. There is no point in giving information if your audience does nothing with it as a consequence.

You will have done all your preparation for nothing.

You are an educator when you are on stage; you are in some way helping an audience to change their lives, work-behaviour, or to make decisions, for instance.

Your role is to be the facilitator of the audience's learning, you are not there to "give a presentation".

What do you do to help your audience learn? Do you use your emotional intelligence to guide you?

EQ skills 6: Test the audience learning 

You are an educator. Do not say at the end of the presentation, "I don't know what the audience took away from all that", or "oh dear, I ran out of time before I got to my point".

Build into your presentation ways to gain feedback and input from your audience Do this all the way through.

Do not work blind, wishing and hoping that they will pick something up. Test as you go, so you know.

EQ skills summary

Do not give a presentation. You are a facilitator of audience engagement. Use your emotional intelligence and engage and educate your audience. It is the audience that matters.

How to improve your public speaking now.

Can you afford to have you or your team unable to engage their audiences? No! Organisations need to be represented by engaging speakers in order to get their message across as swiftly and effectively as possible. This applies to you if you are an executive or a manager too - do not bore your employees, your stakeholders or your board. We have a number of options to help you:

  1. Book into our public speaking development package.
  2. There is a definitive guide: "The beginners guide to being a brilliant MC".
  3. Read the book "Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking".

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.