A couple of weeks ago, I gave an overview of the four main presentation styles. Last week, we covered the Analytical Presentation Style (Technical Presentations). This week, we will cover the strengths and weaknesses of the Energetic Presentation Style. This is the style of presenter that is more "direct" and "emotional". Just as a review, by direct, we mean that this style of presenter will often be more spontaneous and quick to act. By emotional, we mean that this style will focus more on connecting with people and their feelings. You will find the style of presentation more frequently in certain industries. If you work in a creative industry or one where persuasion is important, you will see this style of delivery quite frequently.
We will cover the other two styles, Authoritative, and Empathetic, in future session.
Strengths of the Energetic Presentation Style
ENERGY: The absolute biggest strength of the Energetic Presentation Style is energy and enthusiasm. Out of all of the presentation styles, people who have this as their natural delivery style are often seen by others as "natural speakers". This presenter will deliver quick and fast paced speeches that will keep the audience engaged.
FUN: Since presenters with this natural style are often creative, they use that creativity to make their deliver fun and interesting. They will often create interesting props or visuals. In addition, they have a flair for the dramatic, so they will often try to add in content that is unique. They want to be different from every other speaker.
INTERACTIVE: The energetic speaker loves to get the audience involved in the presentation. They will often prefer a discussion to a lecture. As a result, they love to ask questions to the audience. This speaker is also fond of interesting activities that reinforce the content that they are delivering.
Weaknesses of the Energetic Presenter
VAGUE: The biggest weakness of the Energetic presenter is that they are high on energy and low on details. They naturally design presentations that I describe as "50,000 ft style presentations." They will tend to gloss over a lot of content at a high level without actually showing the audience how to implement this content. You will often find that a lot of motivational speakers use this technique. The late Chris Farley had a recurring character on Saturday Night Live that made fun of this deficiency. His motivational speaker caricature, Matt Foley, was a guy who loved to motivate people with his energy, but lacked the details to actually make any of his advise work in real life. As a result, he was divorced and lived in a van down by the river.
SCATTERED: The energetic speaker will often design there presentations by making a list of everything that they know about the topic. Once they have the list, they will often just start making slides related to the list. As a result, the presentations will sometimes seem sporadic or scattered. They also have a propensity to "rabbit chase" and begin covering unimportant content that isn't really related to the topic at hand. Some audience members may leave these speeches thinking, "What the heck was that all about?"
IT"S A MYSTERY: Since this presenter loves to make their presentations interactive, they will sometimes use questions as their bullet points. They are using what I call the "Mystery Approach." In this delivery technique, they want to intrigue the audience and make them pay attention by making them wait for the content. The problem here, though, is that the audience is likely to remember the questions that the speaker asked, but not the ACTUAL ANSWERS. Remember that repetition is important to helping the audience retain the content. So if they see a statement on a slide, hear the speaker say the content, and then receive additional details that reinforce the statement, they are more likely to remember the bullet. However, if they see a question, hear the speaker read the question, then only hear the answer once, that repetition is diminished significantly.
UN-PURPOSEFUL GESTURES: Since this presenter has a ton of energy (that is really good), they often want to move around a lot as well. This sometimes results in pacing around the room or stage or strange gestures that don't really correspond to the content. A good example of this is when a presenter is talking about two items that are very different but uses the same hand gesture with both words. "We have two sizes. We have a really big one, and we also have a teeny tiny one." If you use the same hand movements to describe each of these items, it will seem inconsistent to the audience.
Five Key Things that a Energetic Presenter Can Do to Deliver a Better Presentation.
Focus on What the Audience Wants, Not Want You Want to Tell Them.
Use Complete and Provable Sentences as Your Bullet Points.
Before you do any design work on your presentation, start by asking yourself these questions. "What RESULT is this audience looking for from this presentation?" "Why exactly is this speech being given?" "If it were delivered flawlessly, what would the audience walk away with?" By the way the answer to none of these question is "Everything I know about the subject." Dig a little deeper before starting to write your speech.
For instance if I'm giving a speech to entrepreneurs about how to use marketing to make more sales, my first answer to those questions might be "more customers". However, although that is true, it is too broad. What kind of customers? How would they get these customers? What kind of marketing works best? You see, if your topic is too broad, all you will get is more questions. A better answer might be, "My audience members don't have huge advertising budgets, so showing them how to use a weekly blog to attract targeted customers might be helpful."
Focus on what this particular audience needs, and then design a presentation with tangible results that they can achieve.
I had a management coach that worked for me for a few years, and when he was hired, he shared with me a number of truly remarkable results that his management training course had achieved. So, I began promoting his course as an additional workshop to my clients. A month or so before we were to deliver the first course, I asked him to send me his participant guide so that I could have them printed. He sent it to me, and I almost fainted. His student workbook was only about 20 pages, and every, single page was just a two to three word heading and a blank page. I called him up to find out if my copy had accidentally been deleted. He told me, "No, I never really know which way that a course is going to head, so I like to leave participants room to take notes. All the content is in my head." I started to freak out. We had already promised the client a great program and had already send out the invoice. I would be embarrassed to show up to the client's office with 20 blank pages.
So, he and I got together, and I had him deliver his "content" to me as if I were the class member. By the way, it was pretty good stuff, and it was in fact, all in his head. We spent the next few days creating very specific, complete, and provable sentences as his headers. Then we added a little of the great content as support under each header. Of course, since his style was to let the audience add their own thoughts, we left lots of space for notes on each page as well. The class turned out great. It might have been fine without my coaching this instructor, but I feel like the class was way more practical for the students because we created those solid and provable statements for each header.
Here is an example:
- Interview Process
- A Detailed Job Description Can be Used as a Guide to Help You Ask the Right Questions During the Interview Process.
The first is a vague and nebulous phrase that can mean just about anything. The second is more pointed. It is also provable. I can't prove that anything related to "interview process" is true, because it doesn't really tell me anything about the process. However, if I have coached hundreds of managers on how to use Job Descriptions and these managers were able to make better hiring decisions as a result, I can prove that that statement is true.
Insert Stories and Examples for Each and Every Bullet Point.
Just like with the Analytical (and with the other two styles by the way), good stories and examples will add in quality details and make the presentation more interesting for the audience. The great thing about the Energetic speaker is that he or she is often a fantastic and fun storyteller. So when this speaker gets more focused on the topic and limits the bullets to just a few, most important items, they will naturally add in great stories.
Ask Open-Ended Audience Participation Questions.
The Energetic Speaker will often use lots of interaction in his or her speeches. However, some types of interaction can be good while other types can be bad. A Yes/No or Rhetorical question is okay every once in a while, but these types of questions typically don't give the Energetic Speaker the interaction that they really want. A better style is to as an Open-Ended and Opinion Asking question. If you design a good bullet point, like the one we did above, you can easily turn it into an opinion asking questions. (For more details explore the Article 9 Reliable Ways to Add Audience Participation.)
In what ways would have a pre-written Job Description for the interview position be helpful when you are interviewing job candidates?
Use Purposeful Gestures and Use Your Natural Energy.
Energetic speakers have natural energy. Use it! Get out from behind the lectern. Get away from your notes. Use your hands to add emphasis to the content of your stories. Just make your gestures are purposeful. Use your hands when you need to use them. Otherwise, drop them by your side. That way, when you make your next gesture, you will show more energy and power. Focus on your audience. If you really want for each person in your audience to understand and remember your speech, you will automatically make great eye contact. In addition, you will lose the pacing and replace it with purposeful movement toward your audience to make that greater connection with them. Don't force it. Let it come naturally, and it will.
What If I Have a Different Style of Speaking, But I'm Delivering the Presentation to an Energetic Audience?
In a nutshell... Kick it up a notch. The Energetic Audience wants to have fun and be entertained. They want content, but if you are boring, you will never be asked back. So talk fast, add lots of stories, insert some humor, and get creative. Show them something that they weren't expecting. If you do, they will love your delivery.