Mis à jour : 8 nov. 2020
You will find bellow the english version of the interview. Q: What advice would you give to students regarding public speaking?
A: There are two things that make us better: preparation and practice. Usually when you see people who are extremely natural, you think, "Ah, this is really what I want to look like." It feels like they've arrived and then "hop," they're talking and it's simple. But in reality, often behind what seems most natural to us, there is a lot of work. I would advise students that it is really by preparing their presentation and practicing it that they will achieve this naturalness. And maybe with a lot of experience it will come more naturally, but it's really important to plan what to say and how to do it.
Q: How can they self-assess?
A: If it is a presentation that students give as a team, I think it's important to be open to feedback from their teammates. Also, if it's filmed or recorded, listen to yourself again. We often hear actors who will say, "Ah I never look at myself"... well then, how do you learn? Anyway, I listen and watch myself so that I can improve afterwards. So I would suggest that if people have the opportunity to listen to each other again, I would do it.
Q: How to give a memorable presentation?
A: If we go into the most practical, I would suggest forgetting your school presentations. The PowerPoint on which there is all the information that you come to say, nobody really cares. We don't want to have your class notes on the screen while you speak. Tell yourself that people have come to listen to you. They didn't come to watch a PowerPoint. So you can put in a striking statistic, an image, a few key words: the goal is really just to have visual support. You’re the one on the show. So if we say "Ah we could turn off the lights to see the PowerPoint better," and if that prevents the audience from seeing you, don't turn off the lights. At worst, your PowerPoint will be paler, who cares. We want to listen to you. Besides, in relation to that, I would also tell you to forget the classic introduction of school presentations "hello, my name is Madeleine Goubau, today I am going to tell you about ta-ta-ta." You have to start with something strong, and you also have to end the presentation with something strong. Often I see students saying "So this is it" at the end of their presentation. It's funny and it makes their classmates laugh, but it doesn't leave us on anything strong. Think about the last piece of information you're going to give to people, because that's the last impression and that's what they're going to walk away with. So I would say, introduction and conclusion, put some time on this, think about it beforehand.
Q: Can you think of a presentation or a person that stood out for you?
A: Barack Obama is someone who really takes his time when he speaks, and who leaves silences. I find that it makes his point very powerful. The fact that he is very true to himself in his speeches gives the impression that one can perceive a part of who he is. Sometimes he'll allow himself, when it's appropriate, a little joke or hint. And that might be some advice students could take for themselves. The fact that we can perceive who you are through your presentation. If there's an element of anecdote or if you make a mistake, grab it with humor, that's okay. People also want to know who you are in addition to knowing what you say. So I would say that for me, Barack Obama is a good example of a very good speaker. And he doesn't have a boring PowerPoint when speaking! You can see that this sort of thing can take the edge too.
Q: What makes a pitch different from a simple presentation?
A: If it's a pitch, the notion of the right impression and the idea of capturing attention are almost as important as the content. The client wants to see who he is going to work with and he wants to have a “wow” effect behind it all. Certainly in a pitch context, the rendering, the ease and the element of surprise are going to be even more important, in my opinion. After that, if what you present sucks, it sucks. But if you have a really, really good idea, and it doesn't deliver well, the customer might be with someone else just because of that.
Q: Has your experience as a columnist contributed to your public speaking skills?
A: The way it helped me the most was that working in the media got me to do this every day. The more you speak in public, the better and less stressed you become. I think being a journalist and columnist made it my daily bread and butter to talk to people. So it really helps me with stress management. And, when you're not stressed, you can focus on the rest of the quality of the content and the way you deliver it. It mostly helped me on the volume actually, doing it all the time.
Q: Out of all the tips, what is one key thing students should remember?
A: My main advice comes down to preparation. Preparing yourself well will give you a better presentation structure. A well-structured presentation will help you get a better idea too. You know the points you want to cover, and it saves you from having to memorize a text. You are going to have the rocks to jump and cross the river. Instead of memorizing sentences, you'll just learn those points, and then you'll be able to talk about them in a more natural way. If you are well prepared, you will arrive more confident, and therefore less stressed. It's okay to be stressed, but you're going to be a bit less. I would also tell you, once there, be well anchored. I see a lot of students, and it happens to me too sometimes, who will cross their legs, squirm a little, or play after something. When we arrive for our presentation, we have to allow ourselves to have both feet firmly anchored and arms low. Just having that thought before you start, it will feel better to start.
Q: One last tip?
A: If there is one thing I could add, I would go back to when I said that working in the media allowed me to do volume. In a way, the advice I would give to students, who don't necessarily have the opportunity to be in the media every day, is to take whatever opportunities you have to speak in public. Every little opportunity brings you something and gives you ease. If you are a really shy and nervous person, raise your hand during class to say something. When it's teamwork where there's just one of the people on the team to make the presentation, take the initiative. It’s confronting, and it’s okay. This is how you will learn. Experiences like Fashion Spectrum, jump in there with both feet. It gives you experience. These are great opportunities to gain comfort. So do as much as possible, that, with preparation, is the only secret.