“I’m sorry I’m speaking in front of….who?!” I say in shock.
(Grammar pedants don’t @ me, it’s just how I speak).
I’ve found out I’m giving a conference presentation in ONE WEEK and there will be someone Very Important in the audience….
How did I end up here??!!
So now I’m spending the whole afternoon Googling the etiquette for addressing Royalty.
Real Royalty. PRINCESS ANNE.
But there’s more.
After I deliver my presentation, she’s going to join me on the stage and deliver her own speech. Gulp.
This was going to be a looooooong and stresssssful week.
Here’s the surprise when the day finally arrived:
We all know what to expect. Princess Anne is going to be a boring speaker. Right? Wrong!
She was funny and wise (we’ll come back to her joke later).
If you do what Princess Anne did then you will deliver a presentation that your audience loves.
Let me explain.
It’s so simple. But most of us don’t do it.
Because we get so stressed and inside our own heads (yes, I’m looking at you).
We become oblivious to what’s going on around us. But not Princess Anne.
Princess Anne could have been thinking about a gazillion other things. But she listened to my presentation.
In fact, here’s a picture of her doing exactly that.
Listen Up, Don’t Blabber
Don’t be the guy who has a stock presentation on a topic and delivers the same presentation every time.
I’ve done this before and I was always left feeling like there was a disconnect.
Princess Anne didn’t make this mistake. She gave a talk that was for us.
She researched in advance, she listened to me, and she ‘read the room’.
That’s my goal each time – find out about your audience and deliver a talk, especially for them.
Here’s what she did next.
This is her getting on stage after my speech.
(Ok, she’s not perfect, she did use the lectern).
She connected what I said in my speech with what she wanted to say in hers. And made a joke about it.
Here’s what Princess Anne said to close her speech:
“I’ve been told by the previous speaker ”
“that before I end a presentation I should give my audience a Call To Action.
Well here’s yours…
…go have lunch.”
*Endless laughter from the audience*
What do you mean ‘it’s not that funny’?
The audience LOVED it. Because she made the effort.
Bend, Don’t Dig Your Heels In
The audience appreciates it when you adapt to what they need.
I find it hard to do this when I’m nervous, but I’m working on it. I’m also terrified of making a joke that doesn’t land.
The more I try this the less stressful it gets. (I’m not sure my jokes are getting any funnier though).
If you reference something the speaker before you said, the audience will warm to you.
If there’s an inside joke that you can find out and slip into your presentation, that’s great too.
It shows you care.
But most of all, do you know what I realized?
Princess Anne is a human being like the rest of us. She used all the same strategies that I try to use. It’s a skill that any of us can learn.