The Winning Voice

Best in class communication techniques from Michael Kelly

‘I consider everything I compose . . .

‘I consider everything I compose a gift.’ Keith Emerson.

This week, the focus is on practical techniques to ‘compose’ your presentations.

What if, like Emerson, you considered every presentation you composed, a gift for your audience?

If you did, wouldn’t you put more care into the composition of the gift, so it was well received?

There are are numerous presentation structures to choose from, for this composition gift.

Here I’m using the presentation in its widest sense. That it, a presentation could be a chance encounter or interaction, a 1:1 meeting, a boardroom meeting, a networking function, a panel discussion or a stand-up presentation.

The deep structure for any type of presentation is Open – Middle – Close.  Certain structures are suited to certain types of presentations but underpinning them is the Open – Middle – Close structure. Here are a variety of structures that can be used for your various ‘presentations’.

Presentation types

Hook, Key message, Housekeeping, Principles fleshing out key message, Q&A, Close with key message.

This is a classical structure for formal presentations. Here is a link to a prior post fleshing out the type.

Message, Flesh-out the Message, Repeat the message.

This structure suits boardroom presentations as well as 1:1 and chance interactions. Here is a link to a prior post with a a real example of using this structure.

What, When, Where, Who, Why, How.

This structure is apt for induction presentations, or brainstorming sessions.

Problem Damage Solution.

This is a classic selling structure.

Past Present Future.

This one is useful for presenting a vision, or for an induction presentations.

In Theory, In Practice.

This structure can be used to give someone a sense of the a job role.

AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action)

This is a classic advertising structure. Here is a link to a prior post on this structure.

PREP (Point, Reason, Example (repeat) Point).

Another structure that can be used for pitching an idea.

Attention, Reference, 30 seconds. (That is get someone’s Attention. Reference who you are if they don’t know you. Ask them for 30 seconds of their time).

This is an entry structure for engaging a person in a chance encounter.

Engagement nod, Open, Middle, Close.

This is a structure for answering questions, such as in a Q&A session.

Engagement nod, ‘Tough question’, ‘Give me a moment . . .’, ‘On first thought. . .’, Fall back with ‘I don’t have a fixed view.

This is a structure for handling tough questions.

(The Engagement nod (a couple of nods or so) notifies the questioner that you are ‘engaged’. Say ‘Tough question‘ so everyone in the audience is made aware that this is not just a run of the mill question. Say ‘Give me a moment to think about that‘.

Then looking upward, take four full seconds to think, and see if an idea emerges. Say ‘On first thought‘ followed by your answer. Using these words signals that your response is not definitive. Your Fall back statement if no thought emerges is ‘I don’t have a fixed view on that’.


Own the Conversation

Cast your eyes over the above structures. Which one could you intentionally practice in the next seven days for a specific ‘safe’ presentation. The Message, Flesh-out the Message, Repeat the message is a good one to develop, as it suits many types of environments.

If you want further explanation on any of the structures feel free to email me.


p.s. Check out this post entitled, Field-tested, spaced repetition presentation practice.

p.p.s. Leaving aside whether you believe John Coates should be in President of the Australian Olympic Committee and/or if you agree with his past leadership of the AOC – below is my analysis of the presentation of himself and his ideas via his body language, voice, words and presence, in his 8:46 minute, Australian Broadcasting Corporation 7:30 interview with Leigh Sales.

Overall, Coates demonstrated masterful, polished ownership of himself and the event.

This mastery was displayed through stillness of his body, a calm voice, measured speaking, omitting needless words and answering questions with his own agenda. The affect, was that Coates was totally across his remit.

Notable sections to view (link above) include:

0- 15 second segment. Rejection of Sales first question and assertion with a simple sentence. (This is a great example of how using less words, has more impact).

15 – 45 second segment. Rejection of Sales assertion and second question with simple statements to support the rejection,

2:00 – 2:30 segment. Ignoring Sales question and making a statement consistent with his agenda.

4:22 – 4:52 segment. Answering the question regarding ‘sheltered workshop’ with acceptance of the mistake with simplicity and contriteness.

6:59 – 7:39 segment. Coates seamless and ready access of financial numbers/information and the meaning of the numbers/information, contributing to his leadership credibility.

Through his performance, Coates gave Sales – who can be a sharp interrogator – nothing to attack. No weakness, no obfuscation, no anxiety.

Coates only displays of unease were ‘over-blinking’ and slight facial grimaces. I’d also suggest that he should have separated his hands in front of his body to convey openness.

For your listening and speaking under pressure development, this is what I suggest:

  1. Archive the clip.
  2. Prior to any tough Q&A session, media interview or pressured event you’ll face, watch the clip, to serve as a top level performance for you to adapt, on how to handle yourself and the event.

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