How to Give an Unforgettable Safety Presentation

How to Give an Unforgettable Safety Presentation (Failure is not an option)

iStock_000017022036XSmallAnother Safety Reflection by George Robotham – SEE MORE HERE

The following has been assisted by formal learning / Education but largely represents critical reflection on the writer’s personal practice. The people who say an amount of it is based on the writer’s stuff-ups would be quite correct

  • The number one thing you must do is identify your audience’s needs, the number 2 thing you must do is satisfy those needs
  • “When reading your correspondence the reader must say “Wow” in the first third of the page”
  • “When listening to your presentation the listener must say “Wow” within the first 3 minutes”
  • Most of us are not naturally gifted speakers and need some assistance to make an impact. The following will make your presentation unforgettable-
  • Do not focus on what you are going to talk about but focus on your outcomes, objectives and end results (What you have achieved for the participant)
  • If you want to get exposure as a speaker volunteer
  • Preparing a speech-Talk to the audience first, demonstrate an unique perspective, orientate to the future, be provocative , use relevant aids, let your audience know you have done your homework

Getting relevant input for your speech, ask 3 questions-

  1. What is the biggest challenge you are facing in your job?
  2. If you could change just one thing tomorrow what would that be?
  3. What advice would you like to give a new person in your job?
  • Preparing a speech-Outcomes, time frame & requirements, key learning points, rough draft, supporting stories, aids and examples, build the opening and conclusion ,practice the speed and adjust the timing.
  • Need to define and articulate how you will improve the participants condition.
  • .The key to a successful presentation is identifying and meeting the needs of your audience. You need to define your objectives and the desired outcomes.
  • Have a variety of presentation styles to cope with differing learning styles.
  • It helps to appeal to your audiences emotions-Power, pride, courage, self interest, convention, posterity, sociability
  • Use clear, simple messages
  • Good visual aids are clear, simple, original, easy to see, easy to grasp, stimulating, creative, reinforce your messages
  • Good messages will trigger an emotional response
  • Use facts to support your message but do not use facts as the message
  • Super prepare for an important presentation, particularly rehearse your opening & conclusion so it comes out strong & clear
  • Sometimes some comment on why you are qualified to talk on this topic is appropriate
  • At the beginning tell them what you are going to do and how you will do it.
  • Research the topic thoroughly bearing in mind that not everything you find on the internet will be credible. As well as looking at the theory it helps to talk to people who have practically implemented strategies.
  • Throw in a bit of humour
  • Have an interesting anecdote that touches the emotions of my audience. The following is something that got me a lot of applause with a Canadian audience on a talk about safety

$ 100 note

  • Hold up an Australian $ 100 note (worth about $95 Canadian)
  • “Who would like me to give you this $ 100 note?
  • Show of hands
  • Crumple it up
  • Who would like me to give you this $ 100 note?
  • Show of hands
  • Stand on it, jump on it and grind it into the ground
  • Who would like me to give you this $ 100 note?
  • Show of hands
  • That right, it still has value despite what has been done to it and many people want it
  • YOU are like this $ 100 note, throughout your life trying to improve safety there will be many people who put you down and try to grind you into the dirt
  • Remember that YOU, like the $ 100 note still have value despite what others have tried to do to you and many people will want you.”
  • Note The storey above is adaptable to a wide range of situations with a bit of thought and adaptation
  • Know your audience, know their needs and fill those needs
  • Have a strong opening and conclusion
  • Make a conscious effort to slow down your speech to slightly slower than normal conversation
  • Use a few Power-Points but not “Death by Power-Point”. Make the size of the font readable down the back of the room. A lot of people get annoyed if you stand in front of them and read out what they can easily see on the screen. A bit of clip art and colour helps to liven up the power-points. Leave your power-points on screen long enough to be read.
  • Try to build in a range of activities for the participants that reinforce your message. A controversial question for discussion is sometimes useful
  • Rehearse your presentation sufficiently that you do not have to refer to your notes too often, you thus maintain eye contact with your audience.
  • Make it fun not hard work
  • Treat your audience with respect
  • Do not try to cram too much information into too short a time frame, people will become overloaded & give up. Concentrate on the MUST KNOWS
  • Have learning objectives and plan to meet those objectives
  • Avoid lecture style presentations where you read from your notes unless the presentation is very short, suggest a maximum of 5 minutes. Instead prepare speakers notes ( big enough for you to read them in poor light) with key points and talk to the key points, this will require a bit of rehearsal. Alternatively use the key points on your power point presentation as your notes, pays to have the hard copy notes as a back up just in case for a number of reasons that could crop up when you rely on technology, you cannot use the power-points.
  • Sometimes a “Where to from here” is appropriate at the end
  • If time permits encourage questions
  • Always pilot your presentation and react to comments
  • The idea is for the audience to get lost in the topic, give them word pictures they can relate to
  • Give something of yourself eg. a personal storey, to build rapport with the audience
  • Focus on audience needs and use words appropriate to those needs
  • Always identify the range of the audience and target your presentation appropriately
  • Identify the purpose of the presentation and the one, single message you want to transmit. Paint a picture to give the message
  • A good approach is to make a point and then tell a storey about that point or tell a storey to make a point. Indigenous people are good storey tellers and this is a powerful technique.
  • Use pauses and silence to emphasise points
  • Have links between sections so audience can see where you are going
  • If you have practical exercises that require participants to give feedback have a roving microphone person.
  • Check out the venue beforehand in case any adjustments to your presentation are required.
  • Try to get the audience close to you.
  • Go along and see learn how the professional speakers do it-For me Laurie Lawrence, Nick Farr-Jones and General Norman Schwarzkopf were fantastic and could be learnt from.
  • The presentations that seem so easy and natural only got that way through lots of work, rehearsal and preparation.
  • Do not be surprised that you have to spend 5-10 times in preparation as presentation.

The Use of Humour

  • Laughter is the best medicine!
  • Much is written about the benefits of humour, you can look it up on the internet if you like. I will not mention this here as I am sure you will have a good intuitive idea of what I am talking about.
  • In the days when I used to work in the mining industry I remember being in a meeting in Rockhampton about a series of personal damage occurrences (“Accidents”) that had occurred. Two representatives of the company that manufactured the equipment involved were in attendance along with a number of industry Safety Advisers. The manufacturer representatives would not acknowledge that the design of their equipment was a factor and were spinning us their company line about how safe their equipment was. Tempers progressively got more frayed and we were getting nowhere. My workmate Terry Condon came out with a classic, humorous one-liner that defused the tension and set the scene for meaningful progress.
  • That was the first time I have seen humour used in a meaningful way in business. I watched Terry in action after this and noted his frequent effective use of humour.
  • Humour can be used effectively in formal and informal presentations and in general interaction in business and non-business life.
  • Avoid humour that focuses on religion, politics, race, class, sex, age, physical appearance. To use any of these will run the risk of upsetting someone. I hear you asking what the hell else is there that I can use? The only safe butt of your humour is yourself! You can also use mythical people whose characteristics you do not describe.
  • There are joke books you can buy but storeys from daily life are more acceptable.
  • Be funny early and often.
  • Introduce the humour in the general flow of your conversation.
  • For a major presentation rehearse and listen to yourself on a tape recorder.
  • Like many things in life humour follows the 6 P rule-Prior Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.
  • If giving a major presentation have a small pilot first and respond to the comments you receive.
  • Try to use humour that relates to things others see as an annoyance.
  • Know your audience and try to relate to them.
  • Quotations from famous people are often sources of humour, you can search these on the internet, Laurie Lawrence’s web-site has a lot of quotations.
  • Stretching the truth is forgivable.
  • Do not take yourself too seriously.
  • You can use a storey to illustrate a point.
  • The Readers Digest and t.v. comedy shows are good sources of material. It also helps you to observe how the professionals use humour.
  • Poking fun at the establishment may be an appropriate and inoffensive way of using humour.
  • Appropriate self-disclosure can be an effective way of enhancing communications and interpersonal relationships. I was introduced to and practised appropriate self-disclosure in a Psychology subject. You will find in a new relationship if you reveal a little bit of you (provided it is appropriate)the other party will reveal a little bit of them(provided it is appropriate), if you then reveal a little bit more of you(provided it is appropriate) they will reveal a little bit more of them (provided it is appropriate), and so the cycle goes on. This is very simple, incredibly effective and I use it all the time to build relationships. Of course if you really hang all your dirty washing out it will probably stuff up the process.
  • Telling a humorous storey about yourself can be a great way of starting the appropriate self-disclosure process. If you show you are prepared to pile crap on yourself it will influence how you and your message are perceived.
  • Being an OHS person I attend a number of safety conferences and courses, these are inevitably dull, dry and boring affairs. It is a pity things are taken so seriously! Perhaps the same thing happens in your speciality? If you are a presenter who uses effective humour, presents well and has a relevant message you will be invited back.

The presentation secrets of Steve Jobs (Ex-C.E.O. of Apple)

  • Transmit passion for your topic
  • Write out the 3 key messages you want your audience to receive
  • Offer evidence or testimonials, have third party reviews
  • Use video where you can
  • Early up answer the question about why your audience should care
  • Rally people to a better future
  • Use groups of 3 rather than long lists of topics
  • Introduce an antagonist, reveal the conquering hero who makes life better
  • Give an experience not a presentation
  • Your audience checks out after 10 minutes, give them something different or something to do
  • Keep it simple
  • Use photos wherever possible
  • Paint a picture, the more strikingly visual your presentation the more people will remember it
  • The brain switches off to boring things, use variety
  • Deliver what you promise
  • Give credit to your helpers
  • Use demonstrations
  • Reveal a Holy Shit moment
  • People remember how you made them feel not what you said
  • Use a minimum of notes so you maintain eye contact with the audience
  • It only looks effortless when you put in a hell of a lot of practice
  • Try to anticipate questions
  • Relentless preparation is the way to beat nerves
  • Never read out a prepared speech
George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

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