Most content marketing begins its life in written form, whether that is its final form or not. If your job is to write blog posts or ebooks, your work appears as a collection of words. Even if you are creating visual content or videos, this content begins with words. But how do you bring those words to life and present them to an audience?
The days are gone of standing at a podium and reading a speech. Some speakers still do this, but if you would really like to bring your writing to life, consider the following suggestions below.
1. Focus on Telling a Compelling Story
Blog posts, novels and conference presentations succeed when they tell compelling stories. If you don’t have anything interesting to say, then it is hard to bring that story to life. Let’s make the assumption that you have a good story to tell, meaning there’s drama or tension or fantastic marketing results, so you need to tell it in a way that keeps the audience interested. Set your audience’s expectations early, so they know what is coming, but create suspense so even if they know what is going to happen, they don’t know how you (and they) get there.
2. Share Visuals, Not Words
We have all seen too many slides with bullet points. We never need to see another one. Want to bring your story to life? Fill each slide with one big picture. Add a caption or a title if you want to. Want people to pay attention to what you are saying? Don’t give them a slide with 17 bullet points on it. They will read it instead of listening to you. Want people to remember what you said? Show them pictures instead of words. Most people are more likely to remember the pictures and associated ideas than they are to remember words on a slide.
3. Identify with the Audience
You are not speaking to a room full of generic people. Target your presentation just like you would a successful marketing campaign. Make sure you create a talk that speaks to the crowd’s concerns and interests. If you were giving a presentation to room full of marketing practitioners or a room full of CMOs, you would focus on different takeaways. And very different details. Be sure to know the make-up of your audience so you can tell the right story.
4. Know Your Material
The best way to give a great presentation is to know your material. That doesn’t mean write out a 60 minute speech and memorize it so you can recite it perfectly, word for word. It means being completely familiar with the ideas and examples behind your story so that you can tell it smoothly without memorization. If all you have done is memorize your words, this will be clear to the audience. It will feel like you are just reading to them instead of talking to them.
5. Watch Other Speakers
Many of us go to conferences and bemoan the quality of the speakers. We watch their body language and scowl. If a speaker crosses his arms or keeps his hands in his pockets, it creates distance between us. Even more than is created by being up on stage. But if they are gesturing naturally, moving around the stage and making eye contact with the audience, we pay more attention. Some of the best speakers give TED talks, many of which are online. Pick a few that are about topics you are interested in and watch them. Pay attention to how they speak, how they stand, how they move and what their slides look like. It is bound to give you some ideas how to tell your story.
You made a bunch of pretty slides, wrote down some notes about your talk and even thought about the clothes you will wear. You also need to practice how some of these words will come out of your month. How will you start? What about transitions? Does your talk fill the allotted time? How will you end? Again, this doesn’t mean write out a speech and memorize it, but it does mean that you should run through what you are going to say. No matter how many times you have been on stage, unless you have practiced a new talk, at least a little bit, it will be rough around the edges. Respect your audience and practice. They are spending their time (and maybe money) to listen to you. Make it worth it by really bringing your story to life.
This post originally appeared on the Oracle Marketing Cloud blog