Five Ways to Slam Business Presentations

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In my line of work, I have always believed that crossing lines between art and science, society and business; and between one discipline and another catalyzes personal and organizational development.

Over the years I have mixed and matched theater skills with presentation skills, improvisation and business negotiating, humor and leadership among others.

Yesterday, on a lazy Sunday afternoon in my hometown, I barged into a workshop on Spoken Word Poetry run at the center for literature, GYaN ADAB in Pune, India.  In the past, I had attended presentations, watched scores of videos of Sarah Kaye and Phil Kay and have loved this art form. The possibilities of tapping into the nuances of this genre and using them for business and leadership communications are enormous.

Spoken Word Poetry, or Slam as it is colloquially called, is a powerful blend of creative writing skills and highly engaging delivery skills. It is poetry and storytelling in one and it hits you right between your eyes and can steal your heart away.  It is raw, romantic and unleashes the authentic you to your audiences of one or many.

Don’t start reciting or speaking until your audiences’ attention has turned towards you. Get up on center stage or across the boardroom table, stand silently until it is time to speak. Doing this allows your anxieties to quell and for people to wind off whatever they might be involved with and give you their eyes and ears. This doesn’t take long and that is why it is called the Five Seconds to Start Rule.

Further quell your anxiety and ground yourself deeper into the performance by planting your feet flat on the ground and keeping them still while you smoothen and calm your breathing. You may slowly look around and relax your upper body. This is called Keep your Feet Still for a While thingy.

When you do look around, depending on the number of faces in your audience, make eye contact with an optimum number of people in the room. Do not just glance over people make sure that you let care and warmth ooze from your eyes. Throughout your performance and delivery look at people and let your feeling show through. This works in two ways; they sense your feelings and recognize that you care and you can keep tab on how the transaction and transfer is occurring. The number of smiles, nods and wide-eyed interest are your measures. Call this the New Insights into the Old Fashioned Eye Contact cliché.

As you speak make sure that your voice comes from the depths of your diaphragm and that you roll your “Rs,” stress your “Ts” and “Ss.”  Since Slam is dependent not just on the quality of the content but on engaging delivery too, it helps to Enunciate Your Words and project them far into the back of the room with or without amplification.

Kudos to the workshop facilitator Shantanu Anand! I loved his analogy of how to add pauses to your presentations and end your slam on a high note.  “Have you seen an old-fashioned locomotive come to a halt on steel rails?” he asked. It doesn’t drop down with a thud like a sack of rice and it doesn’t screech to halt like careening motor car. It roars into the railway station and grows larger in sight while chugging to many slowdowns and stops before its huge, iron wheels grab onto the steel structures beneath it. It comes in “chug, chuggh, chuggghh, pause; chug, chuggh, chuggghh, pause; chug, chuggh, chuggghh, thumping halt!”  In this way when slamming down your Spoken Word Poetry or a Business Presentation take time to bring your spiel to a slow, pause and power-filled halt. Punch and Pound out your Last Few Sentences to increase impact. If the sentence is long shorten your pauses and if the sentences are short then lengthen your pauses. Like “ask  not  what  your  country  can  do  for  you  but ask   what   you   can   do  for   your   country!”

Here’s one of my tiny attempt in print and someday I will render it live because that’s the way to slam!

It is time that you let me out. Long have you been in the habit of keeping me in.

You do realize and recognize that chaining me down makes me wanna’ burst out all the more.

An enemy of yours I am not, my love.

When you will, eventually, unleash me you will learn that I am not anger but your true and trusted love, meant only for you, meant only for you, by you.

You, you nincompoop!

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There!

That’s a little bit about Spoken Word Poetry and how to Slam all your other Business Presentations.

Above all, have fun!

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