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2009-08-11 18:18:14

Three Speakers’ Tips to Keep Your Audience in the Palm of Your Hand


If the last presentation you attended bored you to tears, and you’re afraid you’ll do the same thing when you get in front of people, read how to present with polish and keep your audience enthralled.
Managers, trainers, and even agents sometimes have to present in front of three to hundreds of people. Unfortunately, most real estate presenters aren’t trained with the best presentation tools. Instead, they just copy each other. So, we in the audience are frequently bored silly. It doesn’t have to be that way. Take a look at the three speaker tips below to make your next time in front of a few –or many—enjoyable, memorable, and equally enjoyable for your audience.
Doing Just Like You Saw it Being Done Isn’t Necessarily a Good Thing
Because most real estate presenters have never been trained to present with verve, we see some presentation actions practiced frequently that just aren’t very effective. Recently, I attended a real estate law update. I usually make it a point to meet the instructor prior to the event. So, I traipsed up to the podium and introduced myself to the attorney presenting the material. For several years, I’ve taught my Washington Instructor Development Course, which qualifies instructors in the state to teach clock hour courses.
So, ever curious, I asked the attorney where he took his Instructor Development course. He told me he didn't have to take the Washington Instructor Development course--but he didn't know why (I think it was because he was affiliated a certain agency and our Dept. of Licensing just gave him an exception). He gave me the impression that he thought taking the course was a waste of his time. Later, as he got into his presentation, I thought of the quote I read from the great UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden: "It’s what we learn after we know it all that counts."
Professional Speakers’ Strategies Can Help Us All
The irony: This attorney really could have benefited from a good Instructor Development course to learn how to vary his delivery to keep students' attention—and teach them more effectively. He certainly knew his material, but could have conveyed his material better by using other teaching methods than simply lecture. (Did you know we remember only 10% of what we hear—ten days later?).
Three Powerful Speaker’s Tips
If I had the opportunity, here are the three speaker tips I would have suggested to this attorney:
1. Don't lecture for more than 10 minutes. Adults just don't have that long an attention span (too much on our minds!). Change it up. Use various "alternative delivery methods"--methods to teach other than lecture. In my Instructor Development course, I help students learn these teaching methods by modeling them so they can observe me teaching. Then, we de-brief on what we did. Finally, each student teaches a short module using creative methods, and the rest of the students provide feedback. (We really only learn when we do something). Doing greatly increases confidence--and competence.
2. When you want to change adults' perceptions, beliefs, or knowledge, don't just start talking to them. You may just cause them to shrink more into their beliefs, and to defend it (have you observed students who live to argue with the instructor?)
How to tackle the 'old belief' challenge:
Prepare students to learn something new. For example: Use a 'true-false' or 'multiple choice' to start the presentation, or to check learning. I do this in my IDW course in the middle, and ask students how they would have answered at the beginning of the course--and then contrast that with their new perceptions and learning. It creates lots of 'ahas' with them, and further cements their learning experience.
3. Don't just read from the PowerPoint on the screen (and, just as onerous, provide the student with the PowerPoint as the "outline".) If an instructor does that, I feel I want to just take that outline and leave. I can read, thank you! Too many real estate instructors rely on PowerPoint to do the teaching.
Use that Right Brain of Yours
Effective teaching is much more than just talking. It should be creative. Use all the "attention strategies" at your disposal (that means to get them into your repertoire).
Use props, stories, various audio-visual aids, handouts to control the audience "contour". I learned this as a musician playing for dancing. You direct how you want the audience to dance, and you 'contour' the whole experience (slower to faster, then back to slow). As a great instructor/ facilitator, you can direct your audience in an awesome learning experience. It just depends on the skills you bring to the table.
Resources to Get the Skills
A very few people seem to be born with innate talent for getting front of people. However, for most of us, it’s a matter of gaining and practicing the necessary skills. Here are some methods to get skilled, and raise your confidence level dramatically:
Join Toastmasters. It’s inexpensive, and will provide you skills and practice.
If you get serious about speaking, look into joining your local chapter and national organization for speaking professionals, National Speakers’ Association. As a long-time member of both my chapter and the national organization, I highly recommend it for both skill and marketing development.
Finally, I’ve just completed a new resource for real estate presenters, trainers, and facilitators:  The Ultimate Real Estate Trainer's Guide. Watch for it at in early September. In it, I’ve provided all the tips, skills, processes, and sample outlines I’ve gleaned in my two decades as a real estate trainer.
It’s Worth the Effort
Most presenters/trainers aren’t in it for the big bucks (where are those big bucks, again?). They’re in it to assist others. Gaining and practicing presentation skills helps us give back better. The bonus: Deep appreciation from our audience. We’ve even been known to change lives for the better! No amount of money can provide that sense of accomplishment.
Carla Cross, CRB, MA, is a National Realtor Educator of the Year, international speaker, and author of training and coaching programs for most of the international franchises. She was recognized as one of the 50 most influential women Realtors of 2008. See her blog, Management in a Minute for management and training tips. See her coaching and training resources at

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