I have to confess to watching Olivia Colman’s acceptance speech for Best Actress with a tear in my eye and a beaming smile on my face. Colman’s emotion and energy were heart-warming and as she finished her speech, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in wanting to jump up from my sofa to give her a standing ovation along with the entire audience at the 91stAcademy Awards.
As a commercial skills trainer and coach who helps people develop their presenting skills, this ability to capture your audience’s attention lies at the heart of what it means to be an inspired presenter. Now I’m not suggesting that the next time you give a presentation, you shed a tear or thank your mum and dad, however, there are lessons we can learn from the impressive Colman to help you present with confidence so you can win your audience’s hearts and minds…
Communicate the real you
As Judy Garland famously said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, rather than a second-rate version of someone else.” This can be easier said than done especially in a high-pressured situation. In my experience, people often go into robot-mode when they begin to present; losing their personality and standing rooted to the spot as they focus on delivering their words. Olivia Colman, on the other hand, acknowledges the pressure of the event in her own individual way by saying, “This is genuinely quite stressful. This is hilarious. Got an Oscar!”Throughout her speech she communicates in an authentic way so that we feel we are getting to know the real her. This authenticity is just as important in the business world. People like doing business with people they like – by communicating in a genuine way, you are more likely to build credibility and trust.
Make your audience smile
As anyone who has sat through a long awards evening or conference knows, it can be challenging to stay focused on what the speaker has to say. Humour is a powerful tool to help you capture your audience’s attention and build rapport. Colman uses it to great effect when she says, “I have to thank lots of people and if by the way I forget anybody I’m going to find you all later and give you all a massive snog.” So, when appropriate, don’t be afraid to recount a funny anecdote, or tell a joke – it can help lighten the mood and keep your audience engaged.
Remember to walk the talk
Only 7% of what we communicate comes from the words we say – the remaining 97% is conveyed from our tone of voice and body language. So, don’t underestimate the importance of walking the talk and interacting confidently with your audience. By moving around the stage and making strong eye contact with the people you are presenting to, you are far more likely to communicate with confidence and flair and land your key messages. A great example of this is when Colman gave a shout-out to fellow nominee Glenn Close and finished her speech by blowing a kiss to Lady Gaga.
Finally, when it comes to presenting – as actors such as Olivia Colman know only too well – practice really does make perfect. So whenever possible try to rehearse your presentation out loud – ideally in front of a friend or colleague who can give you valuable feedback to help you give an Oscar-worthy presentation performance!