What Do Master Presenters Do Differently? 7 Essential Habits of Master Presenters

What do you notice that people who are truly “masters” on stage have in common? What are those small differences that over time put in motion large differences that separate them from the pack. As a student of presentation skills since 1992, I have some definite observations. It just gets clearer and clearer to me. Though they are simple, habits, over time they define our growth rate. Do you incorporate these habits?

#1 Think Differently:
Did you know that the first thing Craig Valentine did when he got off the plane from winning the World Championship of Public Speaking was to get a book on public speaking? That is the attitude of a master presenter. People who are the best and have a passion for their craft and their message are always looking to learn more. If every presenter had Craig’s attitude, rarely would any ever sit through a boring presentation ever again. When I jumped into the comedy world, I took every class I could. Many of the teachers I had became “life changing” mentors. I have invested $10,000 each year for the past three years in my own education. Since that has been so helpful, for next year I have already invested over $20,000. Will you invest more in your own self-development next year?

#2 Effort in their introduction:
A master presenter understands that “setting up” the listening is just as important as what is said. Too many presenters do not put any time or effort into their introduction. If anything, they give the introducer an ego filled bio that is usually about seven minutes too long. True professionals keep their introductions under three minutes. They have “you focused” questions in them. These are followed by your credibility, and then a single humbling piece of personal information. The introduction should answer: Why should people listen to you? What will they get out of giving you their time?

#3 They Focusing on Connect with the Audience First:
Master presenters are fully aware that they must “connect” with an audience before they can persuade them. The connection is crucial. This is why I spend a great deal of time researching my keynote audiences before hand. I don’t stop there either. I will also attend other sessions prior to mine, just to find that “one nugget” that will allow me to connect with them. In fact, this ties into the previous point, that part of your introduction’s purpose is to start the process of connecting. Do you strategically focus on connecting?

#4 Long Enough Pauses:
Pauses for the audience’s benefit, not there own comfort level. Too many people on stage only pause long enough for their own comfort. They do not hold the pause long enough for the audience to “think.” This is the whole point of the presentation. Master presenters know that if they are not letting them reflect on their perspective, they are in fact breaking the connection with the audience. All too often the presenter is the problem, not the audience. If you ask a simple yes or no question, a short pause is plenty. If your question requires deeper thought, let them! Do you pause long enough? If they are not reflecting, you are not connecting!

#5 Worry Bigger:
Much more concerned for the audience’s outcome, rather than what the audience will think of them. I recently interviewed Maria Austin, a Professional Trainer, for an audio learning program for new trainers. She is one of the best I know at this. She has what I call the “Maria Mindset.” Before she was a Trainer, she was in customer service. She brought her “serious service” attitude to her training. She looks at it exactly the same way. The only difference is her product is now education. She is so adamant about what the audience members take away. She fully understands that it is not about her. Do you?

#6 Get Lots of Laughs:
It has been said that you don’t have to use humor in presentations unless you want the audience to listen. Although you can have a powerful presentation without it, most master presenters usually have heavy doses of humor. Here is a crucial difference between good speakers and masters. Master presenters infuse the humor into the story. It is not a tangent from the message. Many less experienced presenters will tell a joke, or use something they found on the internet. They use it to break the ice. Wrong! Humor should always have some relevance to your main message. Otherwise, it is a detour and wastes valuable time! Keep in mind what Steve Allen said: “Humor arises between the incongruity between the character and the situation.” The essence of the “sitcom.” For speakers we need “sit-stories.” The purpose of the story should be anchoring a key point. If you are not getting laughs now, learn to!

#7 Craves Feedback:
When master presenters walk off the platform they are fully aware that a crucial part of their next presentation is just about to begin. It does not matter what we say, it only matters what is heard by the audience. Presenters who are passionate about their message are constantly evolving. New ideas are constantly “tested.” Things that are common in my keynotes now, were once new ideas that were experimented with at one time. For example, I never used to show a video clip of my very first time on stage. I also never used to show a photo of my closet full of video recordings. They are now essential, but may some day be replaced with something more powerful. When I spoke in Canada this past fall I had a video introduce me!

Are you on track to become a master presenter if you are not already? If you believe you already are, may I suggest you read over number one again? I get off track occasionally myself, but it only takes one humbling audience to remind us we all still have much to learn. Where will your current habits take you in five years?