3 Presentation Tips to Help You Stop Waffling

The internet is full of presentation tips focused on helping professionals to get rid of bad habits yet in our experience at Mindful Presenter many of them overlook the presenter’s greatest enemy, ‘waffling’.

Reading slides, reciting bullet points, fidgeting and incessant ‘umming’ and ‘erring’ are amongst the top bad habits we see each week in our presentation skills workshops and coaching sessions. The number 1 spot though is always proudly taken by the same menace – waffling.

If you haven’t come across the term before waffling in a presentation is speaking excessively about something trivial without adding to your overall message.

Sound familiar?

It’s painful enough having to experience it in the audience but just imagine how destructive it feels to the speaker who suffers from the affliction of and doesn’t know how to fix it.

If it’s a personal torment of yours then here’s what we suggest you do to speak with clarity and purpose; the opposite of waffling.

1. Get an ‘M’ Point?

Most presenters begin to craft their presentations with the question ‘What am I going to say?’

That’s always the wrong first question!

In an earlier article, ‘The M point of mindful presenting’, we advised presenters to focus instead on the question ‘What result do I really want from this presentation?’ to find their M point.

The M point is the place you really want your audience to be the moment you finish speaking. Focus on it allows you to switch off ‘autopilot’ and become a highly conscious change agent. Let’s face it, your M point is  always to change something; It could be a mindset, an understanding, a level of knowledge or clarity, a belief, an opinion, a behaviour, a decision, an action or simply a perspective.

On the journey through change your M point is what you really want your audience to do when you’re done speaking:

Approve my budget for the new project

Sign off my proposal

Buy my product/service

Recommend me to their clients

Ask for more information about the initiative

Ask for a proposal

Or it could simply be to understand, accept or change a view and act on that new position.

Once you have absolute clarity of your ‘M’ point the next step to ensure you radically reduce the likelihood of you waffling is to have a simple, robust and powerful structure to help you to get there.’

The M point is your moment of truth it’s where you begin the journey of mindful presenting.

2. If you build it they will remember

That’s my adaptation of the famous quote from the classic film ‘Field of Dreams’: ‘If you build it, he will come.’ I’ve amended it slightly to remind presenters that the antidote to waffling and the precursor to ensuring your audience remembers what you a say is structure. Building the right structure will also ensure you achieve your ‘M’ point.

Imagine this; you’ve just walked into your place of work and before you’ve even taken your coat off your boss says, ‘don’t bother taking your coat off, I’ve decided we are all going out for the day.’

After you’ve recovered from the shock the likelihood is that the very next thing you will do is to ask her 3 questions:

Where are we going?

Why are we going there?

How are we going to get there?

Now think about the last presentation you gave. Isn’t it likely that these were the 3 very first questions on your audiences mind?

That’s the foundation for your structure and building everything you say around the following 6 pillars will ensure you never waffle again.

– Open with a bang

– Tell them your key message

– Tell them why your message is not only relevant but important to them

– Tell them exactly how you can help them and give them examples

– Tell them what you want them to do now.

– Close with a bang

3. Take a walk

I live adjacent to an aerodrome which many years ago served as a highly functional RAF base. The circumference of the aerodrome is 1.7 miles and it’s open to the public to cycle around, walk their dogs or of course simply meander.

Once I’ve crafted a presentation using the above structure I walk that 1.7 miles several times with my notes. I call it rehearsal time but it’s not rehearsal in the form of studying, memorising and repeatedly reading my notes. It’s different.

Whether the sun is beaming down or it’s pouring with rain I walk and talk myself through my message, the supporting key points and the way I need to express them. Of course I get a few strange stares from cyclists and the odd wink from a dog or two but I keep walking and talking.

A walk may not work for you. Perhaps you’d prefer to sit under a tree or stand in front of a mirror but try to find the time, space and environment that is right for you to help you to rehearse and focus on your message.

During our coaching sessions people often tell me they simply don’t have time to rehearse. My response is always the same; you don’t have time not to.

In our experience most people waffle while presenting for one or more of the following reasons:

– They simply aren’t crystal clear what their ‘M’ point and message is

– They haven’t prepared well enough

– They haven’t rehearsed in the right way

– They’ve made notes but they’re not focused and structured

– They’re just nervous

– They forget to pause and breathe in-between sentences

Following these 3 tips will radically ensure you increase your chance of connecting with confidence, clarity and impact and put the waffling behind you for good.

Whatever you do don’t forget to take the time to slow down, breathe and pause every now and then to give yourself and your audience time to think.

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.


Originally posted on Mindful Presenter.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
Maurice DeCastro

Maurice DeCastro is a former corporate executive of some of the UK’s most successful brands. Maurice believes that the route to success in any organization lies squarely in its ability to really connect with people. That’s why he left the boardroom to create a business helping leaders to do exactly that. Learn more at https://mindfulpresenter.com/.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

4 Myths About Having Mentors (and How to Overcome Them)
4 Myths About Having Mentors (and How to Overcome Them)

Mentors are special people. They take us under their wise, experienced wings and help us

Schedule “Life” First.
Schedule “Life” First.

Every year, on January 1st, my year begins the same way. I sit down with

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor
25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a mentor?” I

4 Ways to Break Free from Your Post-Holiday Funk
4 Ways to Break Free from Your Post-Holiday Funk

You’re back in the saddle at work. Maybe you took a few days off for

Our Top 8 Most-Read Articles of 2018
Our Top 8 Most-Read Articles of 2018

Go big or go home! If that’s your plan for 2019, we’re here to support

Top 18 Leadership Quotes of 2018 (Slideshow)
Top 18 Leadership Quotes of 2018 (Slideshow)

Monday mornings at BeLeaderly bring  motivational leadership quotes to inspire our readers. If your goal is

Be Leaderly Talks Gender Bias on the TEDx Stage
Be Leaderly Talks Gender Bias on the TEDx Stage

More and more companies want to lessen gender bias in the workplace, but I contend

Turn Your Strengths Into Superpowers in 4 Steps
Turn Your Strengths Into Superpowers in 4 Steps

Ask a woman to name her signature strengths and she’ll often squirm in her chair,

Leaderly Quote: Find your voice…
Leaderly Quote: Find your voice…

Find your voice. Get comfortable with power. Lift others up. —Jo Miller

It’s Time to Go After Awards and Recognition
It’s Time to Go After Awards and Recognition

I have a question for you. What kind of impact could you make as a

Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

Question: I have an incredible mentor. She ...

Teamwork is a Skill. It Takes Practice!

Everyone wants to lead, or be a ...

It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a ...

Leaderly Quote: Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

“Great leaders know when to step aside.” ...

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address. Read more.
Copyright 2019, Be Leaderly