Ask most presentation skill experts what the ideal presentation style is, and you will likely get a variety of answers. Am I supposed to start with a story? Am I supposed to tell jokes? Are visual aids more critical to performance or is the content itself more important? Do I have to warm the audience up, or should I just get right to the point? The answers to these and other presentation technique questions are... yes. And, well.. no. The truth is that we all have specific strengths and equal and opposite weaknesses when we present. What works for some presenters can backfire on others. So, if you understand your specific strengths as a presenter, you can play on those strengths. If you know your weaknesses, you can shore those up as well.
when you say Presentation Styles, are you talking about Presentation Types? Actually, no. Often, many people confuse "presentation styles" and "presentation types." Presentation Styles are the public speaking techniques that an individual uses when he or she delivers a speech. Most presenters will develop a style that works for that presenter and stick to it. A presentation type is the purpose of the talk. For instance, some presentations are designed to inform the audience about new material. Others are designed to persuade. Still, others are created to entertain. You will often see presentation types labeled in a public speaking class with names like, "Presentation to Inform" or "Persuasive Speech". So, the type is the outcome or purpose of the speech. Style is the way that the speaker delivers the material. Two different speakers will often be able to deliver the same, exact type of speech with two separate and distinctive styles.
When I first began training to be a professional speaker, I decided to join a Toastmaster Club to get more practice. I went to this club for the better part of a year, before I quit in frustration. Since I already had quite a bit of presentation training by that point, I already had a good idea of many of my strengths and weakness as a presenter. The first time that I gave a formal speech in the club, I got good positive feedback. I felt pretty good about myself. However, as I began progressing through the prepared speeches, some of the feedback began to get a little odd. I just assumed that this was because the Grammarian changed each week, and some were better than others at coaching. I didn't realize until much later what my real resistance was, though.
It turns out that each of these coaches were providing me feedback based on what worked for THEM when they presented. Since each of these people had a different style than mine, some of the feedback was accurate, but a lot of the feedback really fell flat. I noticed the same thing as I took more and more presentation classes. Many of the instructors in these classes were just trying to get their students to do exactly what they did. In fact, if you ask most people who go through a presentation skills class, they will say, "It didn't really work for me."
Oddly enough, after I had been a speaking coach for a couple of years, one of my students invited me to his Toastmaster Club. It was a totally different experience. The presenters there were just like me. They had a blunt and frank delivery mixed with humor. I felt right at home. They were using my style.
By the way, I'm not telling you to keep interviewing coaches or keep visiting different clubs until you find a style that suits you. Just the opposite actually. If you do this, you will likely stunt your growth as a presenter. In retrospect, even though I was more uncomfortable at the first club, I would have grown more there if I had stuck with it.
Hippocrates was the first philosopher/doctor to present a theory about personality temperaments. He claimed that there were four main personality styles. In fact, there are hundreds of modern-day books and studies based on this theory. If you have ever taken a Myers-Briggs test or participated in a DiSC profile meeting, you were experiencing the modern versions of this theory.
When I first began training instructors to teach public speaking classes, I realized that I needed a way for these less experienced coaches to identify true strengths and weaknesses of each presenter that they were coaching. Early on, I bought some of these personality temperament tests and had class members complete them. For the most part, that worked pretty well. However, from time to time, the tests would be unbelievably inaccurate. It was odd. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they didn't. So, I spent months researching, and I eventually traced the theory back to the source. I just read what Hippocrates wrote. When I did, it was SO SIMPLE! Anyone could understand it. Anyone could use it. So, I made it a part of the Fearless Presentations ® class.
This simple understanding is one of the things that makes the Fearless Presentations ® coaches so much better than other speaking coaches.
Hippocrates identified four specific personality temperaments. I actually found a carving that was dated a couple hundred years after Hippocrates that identifies the four groups pretty well. The two questions that will determine which group you fall into are the following:
Indirect people tend to be more cautious. They would rather do things right the first time than redo the action. Direct people tend to be faster to take action. They want to capitalize on opportunities. They realize that they may make a mistake but see mistakes as part of the learning process. Indirect people are often described as being thorough or detailed. Direct people are often described as being energetic.
Don't let the word Emotional confuse you. By emotional, we just mean more people-oriented. They are more in tune with other people and sensitive to the wants and needs of others. Logical people tend to be more "nuts and bolts" or "black and white" kind of people. They look at data to make decisions. These presenters want facts and proof.
So, the Direct/Logical presentation will deliver just enough facts to prove his or her point, and then move on. They are concise and decisive. The Indirect/Logical is thorough and analytical. For them, a few facts are good and too many facts are just enough. Direct/Emotional presenter wants things to be upbeat and entertaining. For them, the fewer facts, the better. The Indirect/Emotional presenter will want to please the audience with a few details. They are often the most in-tune with what the audience wants but tend to be more nervous about their performance.
I'm just going to give a summary of the four different presentation styles. However, each summary will have a link to more details about each group can maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses. So, once you know your style, click the appropriate link to find out more details about how to become a better speaker.