At some point in your career, whether you are making a pitch to potential investors, or speaking to prospective licensors of your technology, presenting your ideas effectively is one of the most important factors that determine your success.
In my several years of work with executives on their communications, I have seen some myths come up over and over again about how best to succeed at speaking in public. In this article, I will shed light on each one to save executives and their audiences from future mishap.
You must begin with a joke
There is nothing wrong with humour. In fact, it is a great thing when done correctly. The problem is that most executives lack both the skill and the practice to put a good joke across, although they have plenty of inclination to try. Add to that the initial nerves that afflict most speakers at the beginning of a talk, and you have a guaranteed failure. What happens is that the executive delivers the joke feeling tense, then the audience responds to the tension and not to the joke. The executive thinks, Oh no! I am going down in flames, radiating even more apprehension. The audience begins to smell disaster and reacts accordingly. It is a vicious communications cycle, and it is quite hard to stop.
My advice: Do not put that kind of pressure on yourself, at least, not initially. One-liners are very hard to deliver well. Just ask any stand-up comic. Instead, allow yourself to have fun with the material, if the topic seems appropriate.