Sally Z is a speaker coach, overall presentation fanatic, like us, and a fellow podcaster as well! She is working with speakers, presenters, and performers on their content and delivery, and her passion has allowed her to influence people from organizations like US Bank, Cargill, TEDx, and many more! Her podcast is called This Moved Me.She admits to being a speaking fanatic and loves being on the stage, but she also loves the other side of it, which is coaching.

In this episode, we talk about presenting while being mindful and more thoughtful about the presentation space, how to invite more intentionality to your context, and how to improve your virtual presentations with software and feedback.

Entering the world of presentations

Sally told us she did Speech in high school, which led her to train with some of the best coaches in the US and to compete at nationals, s, giving her the entire high school speaking experience. So she confidently said that she’d kind of always had it in her heart.

She then focused on theater in college. For it, she says that it is so different because you take someone else’s screenplay and discover your intention with it. For her, it is much more authentic and of the moment in a way.

She wanted to return to the speaking field after graduating from college, so she combined her experiences and went on to work as a speaker talking to children. She had coached everyone on the team, including the boss, within a year of starting that job.

What to do, if you have an important presentation coming up and enough time to prepare

Sally replied that it all depends on the context. She did, however, reveal an acronym that she uses with her clients: SASI which stands for Speaker-Audience-Space-Idea. Sometimes we rush to the idea, but we are so focused on it that we fail to perform the other things as well as we could.

Figure out who you are as a speaker and what unique qualities you offer to this specific moment and audience. And then there’s the question of space: what does it look like, how does it feel, and how can you make it work for you?

Even virtually, you can still create an intentional experience right away. Leaving nothing to chance and being considerate about how you move, and what you want your audience to experience and get out of it – space can do all of this. In the planning and design of presentations, space is very underutilized.

Before we talk about the content or the idea, we need to talk about space. Once we have the space, we can develop a strategy and create the experience you want to create for your audience.

But where is "SASI" applicable actually

It is applicable to any time you are giving a message to another person. It may be used in a discussion, in a conference room, during a pitch, or even at your quarterly meetup or internal team meeting.

What you will realize will be the differences in the context. Consider how a change in place or context affects the way you feel. Changing the environment may drastically alter the amount of involvement and cooperation. Just one change in the space or the setup without changing the presentation per se can make it way more successful or engaging.

What about the virtual space

Sally suggests applying the same intentionality to the virtual world. Depending on the platform, it can be more challenging sometimes, but it is worth it.

For example, in Zoom, the audience has more control over what they see than you do as a presenter. And Sally believes it is worthwhile to take the time to explain, “Here is the configuration that I recommend for you to have the most engaging experience with this – do this and that so that you can see that.” You can create that sort of intention with your virtual space as well.

Virtually you usually miss so many opportunities – like to play some music or to use a system like Ecamm or any other technology or mode that allows you to come off more professionally and not see this as just another Zoom meeting.

You have to elevate those opportunities, and a little intention goes a long way in the virtual setting. Online, the bar for engagement is even higher because we all know how easy it is to click on another tab or pick up your phone. Even out of courtesy, people do not feel as obligated to be involved online as they do in person.

It’s much more vital in the virtual world to be deliberate and not just do what you’ve always done. Sally stated she constantly gives this push: just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean you should keep doing it that way. Make something fresh.

Software for presenting virtually - Ecamm Live or OBS Studio

People believe that because they are presenting digitally, it is their excuse for not being good. But, in reality, simply getting up and learning to look at the camera because there are people on the other side makes such a difference.

Ecamm Live is a live streaming software that allows you to set up the experience of your live stream. You can live broadcast on a variety of platforms, and it looks fantastic. You can use overlays, or show videos, or upload a PowerPoint or SlideShare presentation. It produces a show as you go and allows you to select by clicking the different scenes you set up.

Software like that lets you still be present as a small circle when you show your slides. It provides you with a plethora of other options. It takes some time to learn, but Sally claims that if she can do it (even though she is not particularly tech-savvy), then anyone can.

Ecamm Live is only available for Macs, however other PCs can use OBS Studio. If you are not an A/V guy, learning OBS Studio may take some time, however, there are numerous resources and tutorials available.

What about the delivery

According to Sally, a lot of people obsess over delivery in ways that do not help them. You can have flawless slides and presentations, but it won’t matter if you do not embody what you are saying or authentically connect with it. People will disregard you and will not take action, be affected, or be genuinely engaged with what you are attempting to do at the time.

You must strike a balance between delving deeper into delivery while also letting go more – and that balance is tricky.

Sally suggested asking yourself what is distracting. If something is distracting about your delivery, whether it’s a mannerism, a filler phrase, or something else – your audience is no longer hearing you, they will be analyzing you. Don’t try to be flawless or choreograph yourself; instead, keep an eye out for anything that could be distracting.

Focus on connecting with what you’re saying and allow emotion to guide your words. If someone cares about what they are saying, you can sense it. If you don’t get excited about what you’re talking about, you will get no one else excited about it. It is an emotionally driven experience, even in business.

Remember, you don’t have to be flawless; you can make mistakes as long as you express your enthusiasm for whatever it is you’re passionate about. It requires practice and can be difficult since it involves vulnerability, but it is well worth the effort.

Being self-aware but still present

Sally advises seeing yourself on camera and having a trusted go-to person for feedback on your presence to balance it with self-awareness. Other people are far more used to you than you are. You yourself rarely notice what is beautiful and impactful, or what you are doing well. Others can bring this out to you or detect something you would overlook. That includes having a coach, it is powerful and beneficial.

Sally also recommends mapping your talk. Listen to yourself and keep notice of when your pitch rises and falls. It brings you self-awareness without being caught up in everything. Grab a piece of paper and a pen or a marker and just listen if your voice is monotonous, or if you conclude every statement with a question when it isn’t.

Differences between the stage or board room and online

The immediate reaction of businesspeople to online presenting is that it is simple, but it actually is difficult. Because you are not physically there and do not have to face people, you must stretch out more into the camera to capture their attention and draw them in. It is even more intense than speaking in person.

Virtual presenting has also democratized speaking. It has brought so many more people into speaking because it feels a little safer. People weren’t given these opportunities when it was in person, but now they are. They are seeing themselves as speakers more so than they were a year and a half ago. And way more companies are asking their people to present online, at conferences, events, panels, etc.

Resources

Connect with Sally Zimney on her LinkedIn. Join her private Facebook group The Emerging Speaker Society here, where you can freely get to be a fanatic about speaking. Check out her website or the This Moved Me Podcast.

You can find Ecamm Live here and OBS Studio here.

Listen to the full episode!