You’re Always On: Are you off-stage ready?

Having grown up in the theatre, I regularly saw actors nail it ‘on stage’ only to immediately fall out of character in the stage wings. And, while this was acceptable among theatre companies, there’s no place for falling out of character in real life.

As a professional PR & marketing consultant, I’m charged with training executives to be stage-ready for presentations and media interviews. And, though it is commonplace to say or hear, “you’re never off the record” with media, you never hear the same when it comes to speaker trainings. Why is that?

You’re prepared from head-to-toe in the way you look and present yourself, inside and out in the words you use, the tone you take and the messages you convey when it comes to the main stage; but, what about the ‘stage wings’? The reality is, you can have the best presentation; but, if your off-stage performance is underwhelming, or worse, inauthentic, you risk losing your audience all together!

Speaking engagements are about much more than building up your thought-leadership. What they’re really about is furthering your brand, managing your reputation and building relationships. It’s not enough to think about being the most knowledgeable or savvy speaker; you must strive to be a humble speaker.

Below are a few principles to follow when it comes to preparing for the ‘wings;’ or, as I like to call it, your presentation after your presentation (PAYP).

#1: Embody/Be your brand.

Sure, images are important to your brand. But, an image is only as strong as the message behind it. Think about the messages you will share off-stage, after your presentation. In what ways can you remain authentic and true to your brand? Is your brand a savvy socialite, knowledgeable ninja or branding bada**? Picture the stage wings and how you might bring your brand to life, while also optimizing every moment and each interaction.

#2: Connect with your audience.

When it comes to your presentation audience, there’s one rule I know to be true…there are no greater thans, only equal tos. Following a presentation, it can be challenging to connect with members of your audience when you may be inundated with business cards and questions. But, that’s when it becomes most important to slow down and give yourself the chance to create real connections with the people. They’ve shown interest in what you had to say. Now it’s time for you to do the same by giving each individual your full attention and by responding thoughtfully. Of course, time is of the essence when you have other people waiting to talk with you; but, that’s when you can choose to share your business card with people you’d like to continue the conversation with. And, for the others, you can use your media training skills of bridging. Growing your LinkedIn connections after a presentation is great; but, wouldn’t it be even better if you knew most of those people? Create authentic connections in real life.

#3: Be memorable.

People may forget what you said; but, they’ll never forget how you made them feel. The opportunity to define your signature moment doesn’t end with your last slide. The true last impression you will leave will be made in your interactions in the ‘stage wings’ after the show. Sometimes the easiest way to be memorable is to be warm and friendly. But, in preparing for your presentation, it’s best to consider how you want to be remembered and what feeling you want to evoke from you audience. Then, think about how you can demonstrate that in your PAYP.

#4: Demonstrate leadership.

One of the key traits of a leader is effective communication. When your presentation is said and done, did you effectively communicate your message? Set a strategy for your full presentation – the before, during and after.

BEFORE

  • Prepare like a leader with dedicated time and attention to the material and delivery.
  • Promote your presentation on your social media channels (and tag the organization you’ll be presenting to).

DURING

  • Tell a story with your presentation. Don’t talk at your audience; but, rather to your audience and find ways to engage them in the content.
  • If possible, have someone take your picture and share it with your followers on social media.
  • Remember your PAYP is just as important (and possibly more so) as your main stage presentation.

AFTER

  • It’s all about the follow-through. Think about how you can extend these new relationships and connections you have made (e.g., connect on social media, schedule a coffee meeting, introduce them to another one of your connections, etc.).
  • Hand-write a letter to the event organizer to thank them for the opportunity to present and let them know you are always open to coming back.
  • Monitor your social media channels for tweets, connections and comments following your presentation and be sure to give timely response and attention to those social engagements.

Are you off-stage ready for your next presentation? So many professionals will prepare you for the main event and then leave you hanging in the ‘stage wings.’ Contact us today if you’re interested in a speaker training program that incorporates your presentation after your presentation (PAYP)!

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