Public speaking is a vulnerable position because of the fear of judgment and rejection. But there is a way to conquer your anxiety and become a better speaker in public. Eric Anderton presents Laurie Gilbertson, the founder and CEO of Tribeca Blue Consulting. Laurie talks about how practice and preparation are huge factors in feeling comfortable on stage. Allow yourself to rehearse and figure out which words sound natural when you speak. Afterward, it’s easier to turn your attention away from yourself and towards the audience during your presentation. If you want more practical tips on becoming a better speaker in public, this episode’s for you.
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How To Become A Better Speaker In Public With Laurie Gilbertson
Conquer Anxiety, Craft Great Stories, Put Your Audience First
How do you feel about public speaking? If you are like most of us, it is something that creates in you anywhere from discomfort to absolute terror, but as leaders, it is something that we have to do every single day. As a result of that, you need to get better at public speaking. That is why I am excited to have Laurie Gilbertson on the show. Lori is a former New York City sex crimes, organized crime, and homicide prosecutor. She also has been a television legal analyst, educator and entrepreneur. She is the owner of Tribeca Blue Consulting. She helps professionals communicate with clarity, confidence, and creativity.
She and I have a very interesting conversation about how you can get better at public speaking through preparation, understanding your audience, and starting every presentation strong and finishing every presentation strong. If you are on the spectrum of anywhere from discomfort to absolute terror when it comes to public speaking, whether it is to a small group or a large group, this episode is for you. Enjoy my conversation with Laurie.
Laurie, welcome to the show.
Thanks, Eric. It is a pleasure to be here.
You were a public prosecutor in New York for a decade. In that role, you did a ton of public speaking in high-pressure situations. What was the biggest failure that you experienced in terms of public speaking in that environment?
My biggest failure was becoming too enmeshed in the case that I did not think enough about my audience and to whom I had to speak about my cases. Remember that talking to a jury is very different from talking to other lawyers or judges or people who are in the knowledge of the legal field. Some of my biggest failures, in the beginning were failing to simplify things, think about who my audience was, and think about the fact that I needed to break down cases and legal arguments in a way that someone who was not a big part of that legal system could understand and relate to.
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a general contractor and you are pitching a project to an owner. The owner is not a technical expert. As you are coming to a situation as a technical expert, in your case, addressing a jury, what steps did you go through in order to simplify your presentation without being simplistic or condescending?
It takes a lot of practice, preparation, and thought and to think, how are you going to break something down to twelve people of varying experiences in their lives, and how do you find that common thread? That emotional thread, that storytelling thread that a jury can relate to, can take twelve very different people and unite them in seeing something and persuading them in a way that goes along with the facts of the case. As I said, it is a lot of practice, preparation, and thought. It’s a lot of talking to other people, putting those themes and stories out there to see what resonated, what made sense, what did not make sense, and breaking them down.
People have said that if you can explain it to your aunt or you can explain it to a fifth-grader, that is a good tool. Trying to think about the simplest way that is interesting that shows the jury that I trust them with this knowledge. It is not being too simplistic, and that would resonate with them. That takes a lot of practice.
The interesting thing here is the dynamic between emotions and facts or how facts and emotions relate together when you are in a presenting environment. Why are emotions so important when you are looking to persuade people?
We start our lives when we are little and make sense of our lives through emotion and through stories. As young as two years old, when children are starting to get a language, they tell themselves stories to make sense of the world around them. That is something that does not go away when we grow up. That kind of emotion has been shown to impact learning, education, and persuasion. People remember things when you wrap it in a story and when you wrap it in emotion. That goes to a lot of neuroscience that I am not qualified to fully get into, but studies are showing that that is what connects in our brain. That is what makes us remember things.
Let’s talk about the structuring of a story. You were getting a case ready. You were going through all the technical details, the minutiae, and you are looking to find that thread. You are looking to communicate powerfully and effectively to the jury. How would you structure a story? Did you have a particular format that you used?
The idea of structuring it, you have to have the knowledge first. You have to go through all the details. You have to know your case better than anyone else in the courtroom. Better than the witnesses you are going to be having on the stand. Better than everyone. You want to know that you are so intimately acquainted with the facts of the case. Only then can you start to think about, “What is the story of this case? What is the theme of this case?” When I started as a district attorney in New York, we were told, “It is going to take you ten trials until you start to feel comfortable doing this in the courtroom.” That was true because there are so many nerves that come into that.
There are so many scary things about being a new lawyer with all this responsibility in these high-pressure situations that a lot of lawyers forget to think about that big overall thing, “What is the story?” The way you start thinking about that is by asking that exact question, “What is the story of my case?” It is not that on this X date at X time at X place, this person took a gun, put it in someone’s face, and stole their property. That is not a story. Those are facts that you are getting across. What is the story? You start to think, “What is the story? Where was this person coming from? What are the feelings involved? What was stolen? Did it have some meaning to them? Was there more to this? What happened afterward?”
Starting to wrap it up so that you can answer as you go into that courtroom, “This is what my case is about.” You can tell the judge or the jury, “This is what my case is about. This is the story of my case.” It is not so much that you are telling little stories throughout. It is that there is a big overarching theme to each case. It is a matter of figuring that out.
What are some of the elements of a good story?
Emotion. If you think about it, storytelling has become such a buzzword. You tell stories. People want to know, especially with the communications that I am involved with, “How do I tell a great story?” You can break it down simply so that it is not intimidating. You’ve got to remember, we have been telling stories to ourselves, to our families, and to our friends every single day since we had language. If you come home from work and you say to your spouse or your partner or your kids, “You are not going to believe what happened today. You are not going to believe what this person did. You are not going to believe this conversation I had,” you are telling a story.
When you read to your kids at night, you are telling stories. It is understanding that good stories do not have to be this epic presentation that someone who is so experienced gets up on a stage and tells it to 1,000 people. It does not have to be that. I like to break it down like this. This is going to sound very simplistic, but this is truly what I believe it is. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. You know why this story is important to you and you tell your audience why it should be important to them. When you are telling a story, you need to start at the end. You need to know, “Why am I telling this? Why is this important? Why is anyone going to care?”
When telling a story, you need to start at the end and figure out why anyone will care to listen. Click To Tweet
That is what starts to make a good story. You have to start at that jumping off point and then get to the interesting visual language you want to use, the emotion you want to bring in and share, how your voice can go up, down, pause, and bringing that delivery into it. You got to cross that threshold first, “Why am I telling this story? Why is it important for me to tell this story?”
I am wondering, as a prosecutor, your goal, as far as I understand, was to convict the person on trial.
Your goal as a prosecutor is to do justice. Take it to trial. When you are at trial, if you have the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, your goal is to get the conviction that the justice demands.
Were you ever in a situation when you were telling these stories where you presented the defendant in a sympathetic light, to begin with, in order to connect with the jury, and then as you went through the story, you subverted that sympathy by bringing out the perspective of the victim or the situation? Did you ever work it like that?
Every case was very different and every defendant was different. There were certainly cases in which I could have sympathy for the defendant and I knew the jury would have sympathy or at least empathy in some way. Part of that is addressing that right away with the jury. I cannot think of a particular case right now, but there were times when I would address that as a jury, you may feel sorry for this person or you may feel that they were in a position where this was their only choice.
To come around to not so much subvert, but to say, “That is not the way to look at this case. That is not the way the law looks at the taste. That is not the way the law demands that you look at this. The law demands that you look at this through what effect those actions had. Here, we are going to show you the actions, the effect of the actions, the consequences of the actions.”
One thing you often say to juries that I often did was, “Even if you feel for this defendant, that emotion does not play a part in your decision. In the same way, when you feel for a victim, you are supposed to put that aside. You are looking at the law.” Did I, as a prosecutor, prove my case to you beyond a reasonable doubt? You got to put that aside.
It is interesting because earlier, you were talking about communicating with emotion and then you are asking them to put aside their emotion. How do you deal with that tension there?
You deal with it in a way where you certainly cannot appeal to a jury’s emotion by saying, “This was a horrible thing. You have to feel sorry for what this victim went through. That is why you convict this defendant.” If you do that, you are going to be overturned for prosecutorial misconduct. You cannot do that. It is a fine line of walking where you are. Facts and circumstances, especially in criminal trials and serious felony cases, sexual assaults, and homicides, bring up emotion.
It is impossible to totally divorce that from the case. The way you walk that line is you are not appealing to emotion for a verdict. You are not saying, “Find him guilty because you feel bad for this defendant for this victim. You find this defendant guilty because he did these things.” It is very interesting in our justice system the way that all attorneys and judges have to walk that line.
I suppose that effective attorneys are the ones who are able to weave in the emotional element without overtly appealing to that element. Am I right there?
I could not have said it better.
Let me go to this idea of objections. There is no legal case that is ironclad. Perhaps there are always perspectives that you can take. As you were approaching a case and studying it, you understood that there are potential weaknesses in your arguments because of the nature of the case, not because of your own lack of ability. Would you build those objections into your presentation? Would you expose them? Would you seek to hide them? How would you decide what to do in terms of the weaknesses of your case?
You never hide them or at least I never hide them. One of the things that I work with people in communication and it is something that I learned in court is how you handle weaknesses and how you can turn weaknesses into strengths. I had cases where victims in the cases were not generally people who would engender a lot of great emotion from juries. Say perhaps the drug dealers or murderers, or violent felons who were either the victim of a crime or who were my witness because they were cooperating with the prosecution and were giving information.
What you need to do both on opening, closing, and in directing those witnesses is approach it head-on. The jury is not going to be afraid of it if you are not afraid of it. It is right out there. It even starts before opening. It starts with jury selection. Can you believe someone who has a long record? Just because someone is engaging in crime, does that mean that they are not entitled to the same protections as you are or as I am not to be robbed, raped, or assaulted?
You start inoculating the jury to examine that and think about it so that by the time your witness is on the stand, they know who that person is, it is not a shock, and you have not hidden anything. If you hide something, you have given up your credibility. As an attorney, and especially as a criminal prosecutor with the power and responsibility that you have, your credibility is the most important thing to have in the courtroom.
Let’s talk about that. There are a couple of things I want to ask. How does being open about the weaknesses of your case help to build trust with the jury?
There are a couple of different things in there. One thing is that you are being open, transparent and honest with the jury. That builds trust and credibility because if you did not say anything. You said that this is some fantastic witness who is going to get on the stand and tell you this whole story and then the witness gets on the stand. They learn all of these things about the background without hearing from you first about it. They are going to feel surprised and let down, you hid something, and you were trying to get something over to them. That is one thing. Another is that these weaknesses are not always weaknesses.
You can turn weaknesses into strengths. Click To Tweet
For example, if you have a witness who is cooperating with you, the reason generally that these witnesses know so much about the crime that they are testifying about or know so much about the background is because that is the world they are in. It’s because they have that entree and that knowledge because they are in it. That is why they are a valuable witness. That is a way of turning that weakness into a strength and having the jury understand, “I am bringing you this witness because of all these things. I am bringing you this witness to help you understand this case.” That is another way you are building trust with the jury.
You are letting them know exactly why you are doing things and being transparent about why they are hearing from certain people. The idea of a trial, you see it in movies and people see it on television and there is Law and Order, CSI, and there are all these things. When people get into court as jurors, it is a totally different experience. It is not anywhere near as exciting most of the time. There are long stretches where they may not be doing anything and things are going on with the lawyers, but they want to be a part of it. They want to understand it.
In jury trials, the judge will tell the jury over and over, “You are the most important people in this courtroom. Not me as the judge, not these lawyers. You and the person on trial are the most important people in this courtroom.” You’ve got to treat a jury with respect and part of that respect and trust is when there are weaknesses in your case, it is being straight with them about it.
One of the things that interest me about the legal system is that you have a jury in the room. It is a jury that, in many cases, most cases are pretty diverse in terms of background experience, maybe even education, etc. What did you do to read the jury and then adapt to a diverse group? Did you focus on appealing to one person on the jury? Did you focus on appealing to a group of people? How did you suss out your audience and then adapt yourself to that audience?
It is a difficult skill. There is a lot of psychology and communication involved in that. I had a mentor at the district attorney’s office who used to say very famously, “It does not matter to me who is on the jury. Give me the first twelve. I am good. I can convince anyone.” I did not subscribe to that. It is a lot more difficult.
The way of doing that is you have very short time with people. At least when I was practicing, you had jury questionnaires. In State Court, you get some time to voir dire them to do the jury selection by questioning them yourself. In Federal Court, the judge is asking the questions and the lawyers are not even often having the opportunity to speak directly with them.
You are looking at a jury questionnaire that gives you a name, occupation, a general area the person might live, a general age, some family history, whether they have been the victim of a crime, or another involvement in a case. You do not have a whole lot to go on. You start to do with the jury. You start to read, “How do you know who is following me? How do who is not?” This is much like an audience in a presentation. Hopefully, your jury is with you, but you look at facial expressions, you look at their body language. Are they sitting up straight facing you, facing your witness, nodding their head? That is going to tell you that they are paying attention.
As one juror I had in a case, he made it quite obvious that he was not interested in anything I had to say. Turning your back fully on you, I knew that he was not a guy that was going to listen to me anymore. It was over. I had to take some actions on that. A courtroom is a courtroom, but it is so many things that are exactly like the real world. The same things that would tell you, if you are talking to people at a meeting or doing a sales call, would tell you if that person is listening and paying attention, the same exact thing in the jury box.
What I would often do in cases is certainly you are making eye contact to the best you can with the jury. You are getting a sense with the body language, with where they are looking, with the expressions on their faces, of what they are paying attention to and how deeply they are paying attention, and then you can start to sense. At least I would start to sense, “Who are my allies on this jury? Who are the people who are with me, who seem to be agreeing with what I am presenting here, following along with, with the arguments and with the witnesses who seem to be getting it?” Those are the people to who I spoke to.
When I would be making a closing argument, I was speaking to my allies who were going to go back to the jury room and they were going to be my proxy. They were going to use my arguments. They were going to build on those arguments to convince people who may not have been quite to that point yet, who may have been getting there, but want me to talk through quite a bit more. That is who I would focus on. If there was someone who I could tell was not with me, I did not ignore that person, but that was not where I put all my efforts. I did not necessarily feel that was what was going to be effective.
Why do you think people struggle with public speaking?
There are very few things in life that are more vulnerable than getting up in front of people and talking. It is a very vulnerable position to be in. People are afraid of being judged on how they look, what they say, and the content of what they say. It can be a scary thing.
Have you ever run across people who are not intimidated by public speaking in any way or generally speaking? They do not get nervous and it is just something they do.
I have. A lot of the people who love public speaking and presenting are the people who have put a lot of work into getting good at it. They put a lot of work into the practice of it, in its preparation, and in the way they want to do it so that they feel comfortable. There are a few people, and there were definitely some I worked with as a prosecutor because we had to be people who were like this, who were amazing. You felt like this was how they were born and they were super good at it. I would not say that they never got nervous.
They most likely did not show the nerves, but people who get excited about public speaking are generally also the people who get nervous because that is that adrenaline going. If you get to a point where you are so calm, so comfortable, and you are not feeling any butterflies, I think that is not a great place to be. You need a little bit of that to keep you going. I get nervous before everything I do. I have been doing this for awhile and I teach people how to do it. I still get those nerves.
How do you manage your nerves?
I prepare. That is the lawyer in me. I practice, which I do not like doing, but I force myself to do it so that I hear the words that are in my head coming out of my mouth and make sure they sound good and that I get comfortable wrapping my mouth around them. I do that. Before I am about to do something, I stop and take a couple of breaths. I close my eyes and I take three breaths. I don’t tell myself, “I am nervous about this.” I say, “I am excited to do this.”
It sounds a little cheesy, but I get that mindset in my head, “I am excited to share. I am excited to do this.” I try to turn the attention away from me because it is not about me and onto the audience. What am I giving? How am I this one person or 100 people? What am I going to leave them with? I try to turn it away that way so that I am not thinking about myself when I get up there.
Public speaking should always be about your audience. Click To Tweet
Why do you do that part of it? Why do you make it about them as opposed to about you?
It should always be about your audience. Technically and logistically, I do it because it takes my mind off of thinking about, “How do I sound? How do I look? Is this going to go well? Are people going to feel good about this?” It tricks me a little bit to taking my mind off myself. I also do it because when you turn your attention to the audience, it makes the nerves go away. You and I got on here and I was a nervous, the way I am, before I do anything. I tried to think to myself like, “What do I get to talk about that is going to be fun and is going to hopefully give your audience something when they are reading that they can take away, improve their speaking, feel better, and get some confidence about communicating? What is something new I can talk about that I can share?” I even did that to try to think about it that way.
Let me ask you about your preparation. What are some good tips or keys in terms of preparation that you can give us, please?
Everyone prepares differently. It is a good idea to start thinking about what works for you. Often, it takes a lot of trying a lot of different things. For me, in particular, I write everything out. As an example, for stories, let’s say there is a story I want to tell. I will write out or type out the whole story. I will read it, edit it, and then start saying it. I will take my phone out and start saying it into my phone. I will see how long it is and cut it shorter and shorter. I do not know if you know the Mark Twain quote that says, “I wanted to send you a short letter, but I did not have time, so I sent you a long one.” I do not know the exact one, but something along those lines. The more you can cut things down through preparation to that gem, that core of meaning in the middle of your story or presentation, the better it will be. You are doing the work for your audience before you are getting to them.
How do you know what to edit?
I can sense what feels right to me because I have been doing it for a while, but one way to do it is to start telling your stories to other people. It can be a friend, a colleague, your child, or someone else’s child. Start telling those stories and you will start to feel what feels good to you. I coach people to go on shows much like this one. That is the same advice I give them that when you are going on, even in your speaking engagements, your podcasts, or your presentations, start telling your stories and you will see other people’s reaction. You will feel what feels good to you.
Another way is you can work with a coach who will give you that feedback but often will give you the same advice. You have to start doing it. Unfortunately, speaking and communicating well is not one of those things that you can learn in your head and then master it. It is a lot of doing. That is how you start to learn. Also, it is learning from other people. Start watching some TED Talks and keep listening to podcasts like yours where people can learn from your guests and hear how people communicate things.
You see what makes a good story. What makes a good presentation? What sounds good? Was it the pause that the person used when they were telling the story? Was it that they started the story with a question? Was it that they started the story saying, “Imagine being here and let me tell you all about it?” Everyone has got a different style and no one can tell you what yours is. It is something you have to discover and you discover it from doing the preparation, doing the practice, but also from looking at other people. What are great speakers doing that you can see that you can incorporate and make your own?
I lack charisma in the sense that people are not eating out of my hand when I get up to speak. It is a painful thing for me, but I am in a place of leadership, so I have to do presentations or I have to do pitches to clients. How do I get over that hurdle of lacking charisma or generally being uncomfortable?
The word “charisma” means so many different things to different people. The first thing I would suggest is that anyone can be charismatic in their own way and that everyone has something unique to share. The important thing is to focus on what is it you want to share in this public-facing role that you now have? What are those experiences? What is that expertise? What is that knowledge? What do you want to share with the people that you are going to be speaking with? Turning it around again to that audience. Maybe you are in a fantastic company and you have all these amazing services and you want to get out there and benefit all these people by doing great construction projects. You want to be their resource.
It is a matter of turning it to that audience, not thinking about, “I lack charisma.” There are lots of ways to enhance your delivery of how you are delivering that message, that knowledge to your audience. Before you work on that, it is getting your mindset straight because that mindset of, “I do not have charisma. I am bad at this. This is awful.” That is going to make it hard to get up there and do it.
Working, first of all, to start to think, “What is all this great stuff I have to share?” Write it down. “Here is my company here are great services. Here are the things I want to get across.” That is the first thing, starting with all that great content, which starts to build confidence. You start thinking, “I am an expert. I know all about construction. I know so much more than all these people. They need to hear from me. If I do not get out there, they are not going to hear from me.”
Starting to almost think like, “I am doing a service to these people and I am doing a service in getting all this word out.” You then start to think, “Here is what I want to get out.” Starting small. You do not necessarily start at your huge presentation in front of 500 people. Starting to have those one-on-one conversations about what you are offering and breaking it down for people and thinking about how you can share these things in an interesting way? Do you have an interesting story to share? What if there is a story, say, Eric, you have a story about maybe the first thing you ever worked on? It is an interesting story. Start to figure out what that story is and start to share that so that you feel connected to what you are talking about so it does not feel like a burden to you.
Start small. The more you do it, the more comfortable you are going to get with it, and the better feedback you are going to continue to get. You are going to start to feel comfortable. It is not going to be in that mindset of, “I do not have anything to share.” You are going to see that you have so many valuable things to share.
Earlier on, you were talking about the juror who turned his back on you to demonstrate that he was not interested in what you were saying. What are some strategies that I can use in the presentation where the audience I have must engage that person who is not engaged? That is part of my responsibility. What are some strategies that I can at least attempt to use in order to bring in someone who is not engaged in my presentation?
Part of that starts when you are creating the presentation and part of it starts with the respect you want to show your audience by taking the time to prepare it well, to think about what is going to connect with them, and then part of it is with engagement that you are going to have with them. Instead of the things that will start to get those who may not originally be interested in interacting with you, are making that presentation interactive.
Have some time in there where they can speak with you, answer questions, put things out in the audience where you are asking for feedback, using interesting graphics and interesting video. If you have someone in that audience who is not engaging with you, one way of dealing with that particular situation in the moment is engaging with the people around that, engaging with the people who are engaged with you.It is going to be a lot harder to get that person, in my example, to turn around and pay attention.
It is going to be a lot harder and you do not necessarily want to call it out and make anyone feel embarrassed. Also, you do not know what is going on with them. What if they are having a bad day? What if something is going on in their family? You do not know. Honestly, it may have absolutely nothing to do with your presentation. Engaging with the people who are engaged is going to draw that person in, and doing some subtle things in that way so that once the rest of the audience starts doing it, that is hopefully going to bring that person along.
It’s in the doing that you start to learn. Click To Tweet
Let me ask you about audience interaction because this is another thing. You have got your presentation, but then you have got to manage the audience as you are going through it. When I think of audience interaction, I think of individuals, small groups, and then the whole room. Is there a particular structure that you use in presentations or that you teach people in terms of how to deal with those three levels of groups, the individual, the small group, and the whole room when making a presentation in terms of getting interaction?
It depends on the size. If you are speaking to a group of five, you have to worry less about the small groups because you already have that small group.
Let’s think about it this way. Let’s say I am the owner of a construction company and I have got the guys from the field in for a safety meeting. I have got a group of 35 or 40 superintendents and foremen. We are having a barbecue and they are at round tables. I want to make sure that they get the most out of the presentation. How would I handle that situation?
One fun way is engaging people, not just by talking because sometimes people get a little nervous to answer a question or throw something out, is you are posing a question, but instead of people having to answer that way, they can do things such as standing up or raising a hand. I saw someone do a fabulous presentation where they had the whole audience stand up. Here is something you could do. You get all the foremen and ask them all to stand up. You can start asking questions, “Who is comfortable with X? If you are not comfortable with X, sit down. Who is comfortable with Y? If you are not, sit down.” You are learning a little bit about everyone. Everybody is engaging with each other and with you.
Some of these questions can be funny, so you are breaking the ice a bit. What you can do is at the end, you aim to have 1 or 2 people standing and they get a prize. They get to come up and do something. They get to be your Guinea pigs for something or whatever you decide on, but that way, you have engaged people with emotion. You have engaged them with humor. You have engaged them with each other and you have engaged them physically. Nobody has felt any pressure and they have all gotten to be part of this great group activity. That is one way to pull people in that way.
You talked about small groups and that is something that I love. You do not have to be the sole voice that people hear at your presentation. I do not want to be the sole voice that people are hearing. You want them to hear from each other too. That makes it so valuable. One thing I like to do at the beginning of the presentation sometimes, let’s say, I am doing a presentation on introductions, “Everybody, turn to the person on your right and I want you each to take 30 seconds. I am going to time you. Introduce yourself in any way you want to introduce yourself. I will let you know when the 30 seconds is over and it is time to switch.”
Each person introduces themselves. That way, they are not speaking in front of the group. There is nothing to be nervous about. They are getting to know each other. You then bring everybody back and you can say, “Each pair of the group, tell me something you learned about the other person.” They are sharing. Everyone is getting to know each other and then they all feel like a part of the community. When you are then presenting, you have already created a connection between you and your audience because you facilitated it. You have created a connection between them themselves. It makes it much richer.
Connecting, not only with yourself with the audience but the audience with themselves. That creates a vibe in the room where we are sharing an experience together.
In that way, you are less likely to have the people who are not going to be engaged.
I appreciate your time here, Laurie. As I am thinking about putting together a presentation, whether it is for a large group or a small group, give me three action items that I should be taking every single time to make sure that I am doing my very best when making a presentation.
You have a very small amount of time. Not to scare you, but neuroscience shows it is 3 to 7 seconds to grab your audience’s attention. You want to start strong. That is one thing that people can do to start strong. You do not want to start with, “Hi, I am Laurie. We are going to talk about public speaking today.” You want to ask a question, share a statistic, a statistic about construction projects, or a statistic that is interesting. Pull them in with something.
Use the word imagine. It is a great way to pull people in, but do something different like that to start strong. If you are worried about being introduced to your audience, you have someone introduce you. That way, you jump right into it or you give that strong creative introduction and then you can talk about who you are. That is number one.
The second one is a bit about what we talked about with storytelling. Think about your presentation as a story. What is your theme? What are you talking about? What are you trying to get across? You need to try to boil that down into a sentence or two. Do not make your audience do that work for you. You need to do that work for them. Trust them enough to do that work for them. That is how you are going to get that connection. Think about it. You should be able to say, “I am giving a presentation and it is a presentation about X.” It is simple as can be.
The third thing that people can take away and do that is going to make any presentation shine is much like the introduction. You need to end strong. You start strong and you end strong. You can use the same techniques to grab that audience in the beginning at the end. It could be a statistic, a question, a story, or a great video that ends it.
How many presentations has everyone been to where it ends with, “That is all I have. Any questions?” You have missed that big opportunity to leave your audience with that story, the theme you planned your presentation around. You have ceded control to whoever in the audience has a question and you do not even know what it is going to be and you may not know how you are going to answer it.
End strong. Think about what emotion do you want to leave your audience in? Do you want to leave them curious? Do you want to leave them happy? Do you want to leave them inspired? With your example of the foremen, you want to leave them ready to go out and work. How do you want to leave them? You control that.
I am not against Q&A. It is great. You can do it after or you can do it during. There is always a place for it, but if you incorporate those two things, starting strong and ending strong, I promise, you will see such a difference in how you feel delivering those presentations because there is your charisma right there. You will also see a difference in the feedback and the engagement you get from your audience. I encourage people. It does not take long to do that. Give it a try.
I appreciate your time, Laurie. How can people get in touch with you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Neuroscience shows you only have three to seven seconds to grab your audience's attention. Click To Tweet
I was a former prosecutor. I was also a former television legal analyst. I am an entrepreneur. The name of my company is Tribeca Blue Consulting, named after where you still live near in New York City. You can reach me on my website. It is TribecaBlueConsulting.com. There is a form on there. You can contact me directly to continue the conversation. I am happy to do that with anyone reading. I am also on LinkedIn at Laurie Gilbertson. What I do with my company is much of what we talked about here. I help people communicate better in all sorts of situations, whether you are talking to an audience of 1 or 10 or a 100, using a lot of the stuff that we have talked about.
Laurie, I appreciate you coming on and sharing your experience and your wisdom. Thanks for joining us on the show.
Thank you, Eric.
Thank you for tuning in to my interview with Laurie. I hope you got some insights into how to become a better public speaker. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn or on her website, TribecaBlueConsulting.com. Feel free to share this interview with other people in your network that you think would benefit from it. Please give us a rating or a review. It helps the show to spread throughout the interwebs. I appreciate you reading. I look forward to connecting with you sometime on LinkedIn. You can always find me there or you can go to my website, ConstructionGenius.com.
About Laurie Gilbertson
Laurie Gilbertson is a former New York City sex crimes, organized crime, and homicide prosecutor, television legal analyst, educator, and entrepreneur. As the owner of Tribeca Blue Consulting, she helps professionals communicate with clarity, confidence, and creativity in their public speaking, presentations, trial work, and media appearances.