When speaking during public relations presentations or media interviews, it’s easy to make any number of rookie mistakes. You may not have prepared enough in advance. Try too hard to appear confident, and you may simply look like you’re showing off. You can confuse listeners by overusing unexplained technical jargon. You can speak in a flat, affectless tone that makes you seem cold and unemotional. Any or all of these mistakes may lead to an audience so bored that it misses your key messages completely. Here are five tips for adding a human touch to your next presentation, speech, or interview.
1. Use everyday language. Sure, your audience may already be experts in your chosen subject. But they might also one day use the information in your presentation when speaking with someone from outside of your field of expertise. And you can never be 100 percent sure that everyone in the audience knows as much as you do about your subject, especially during a media interview.
2. Act it out. Like any performance, public speaking uses emotion to get across a message. A serious tone may be appropriate during some moments; a passionate outburst may drive a point home. To know which approach you should emphasize and when, you should rehearse your presentation in front of a mirror at least a dozen times. Recording your presentation–via video, audio, or both–and studying it may also prove effective.
3. Change things around. No one would argue the importance of hard facts and figures when trying to relay information. But a public relations presentation or media interview should never become a dull list of names, numbers, and other statistics. Your audience will absorb hard information more effectively when it’s combined with audio-visual materials, extemporaneous asides, and other entertaining elements.
4. Don’t forget the human interest angle. Audiences want to know how the information in your presentation affects real people; reporters conducting media interviews are always looking for the “human interest” angle. Stories and asides based on real world examples help
5. Don’t be afraid to be funny. Humor can be a crucial tool in winning over an audience. If you’re worried you’ll flub a joke or come off stiff while telling a funny anecdote, practice your routine ahead of time on family, friends, or colleagues.
What about when your public relations presentation or media interview is over? How can you be sure you were successful? Embrace criticism and use it to your advantage. Distribute an evaluation sheet to the members of audience following your presentation; in addition to their name and contact information, ask them for their detailed opinion. You can also have them grade you on a points-based scale. Specific questions related to your presentation will refine your evaluation even further.
Think about all of the public relations presentations and speeches you may have recently attended. Also think about the media interviews you may have read, seen, or heard. Determine which of those stood out and why you were impressed. Remember that any prospective audience is regularly inundated with similar information. By adding that human touch – through humor, personal anecdotes, audio-visual surprises, and concise everyday language – you can be sure that your future public relations presentations, media interviews, and other public speaking engagements will stand out.
This article originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.