Successful Public Speaking

Basic Business Cents

So you have been asked to give a talk; are you excited or apprehensive? It doesn’t make any difference if you prepare and rehearse properly, you will become comfortable with your ability to effectively get your message across. It doesn’t matter if your talk is 5 minutes to your church group, 20 minutes to Rotary or Lions, or an hour key-note address to a large crowd, the home-work is the same.

Harvey Mackay, author of Outswimming the Sharks, said, “The best way to sound like you know what you are talking about is to know what you are talking about.” It is important to research and study your subject so that you can develop a focused message that will be a valuable take-away for the audience. But it may be more important to research and study your anticipated audience. Ask yourself what are they interested in and what are their expectations. Relate your message in terms of benefits to the audience. They are not there to hear how smart or how eloquent you are, they are there to hopefully hear something that might be useful to them.

A secret weapon in speaking is to create a mind map that can be visualized. Start by dividing your talk into three main points you wish the audience to remember. Place them in three circles on a sheet of paper and add additional points radiating from the appropriate circle. If you try to put your talk into a standard outline form, you force your brain to think serially and it just doesn’t work well that way. Thoughts come randomly and they can be placed on the proper circle as they come to mind. Keep audience interest by adding stories or anecdotes to emphasis points throughout the talk.

Having done this in your preparation, you will be surprised at how you remember this map in the delivery of the talk. You will find that you may not need notes, or at least only this one page. When finished with this map, you have the body of your message detailed and only now it is time to develop the introduction and conclusion. A professional speaker once told me that the audience will only remember three things after your talk; the introduction, the conclusion, and the stories. This is rather disheartening after you have studied your subject so hard but there is probably more truth to it that you might like. This only emphasizes that your stories must be relevant and properly enforcing key points of your message.  Stories and anecdotes keep the audience interest and, properly used, reinforce key points of your message.

The introduction should be a “grabber” to get the audience attention. The conclusion should be a memorable one-line summary of your key points that leaves the audience on a high note.

Next comes rehearsal- practice, practice, practice. When you think you are ready, ask a friend to listen to you or tape yourself so you can listen and learn. Practicing out loud is important. When you become satisfied and comfortable with your talk, you are ready for the delivery.

First of all, remember to teach and not preach; the audience will appreciate you more and you will be more effective. Pay attention to your appearance and personality. The audience will feed off of what they see of you. If you look like you are having fun, they will have fun. If you appear dismayed, they will be also. Put a smile on your face; be confident, and enthusiastic. Be animated, energetic, gesture, and be alive. Maintain eye contact and talk to the audience, not at them. Be engaged with the audience, ask for questions if you like, or use other means to get them involved. Any talk worth listening to, is worth learning by the speaker, so don’t ever read your talk. If you use slides, remember no more than three lines per slide and no more than three words per line. Use slides to emphasize points, not as an outline to follow.

The talk may be over but not your effort. Write a hand-written not to the person responsible for your speaking opportunity. Take time to criticize your performance and list what you can do to improve next time. Obtain email addresses of attendees to expand your network. If questions were raised and you are not satisfied with your answers, follow up with a short email containing further thoughts.

You prepared well by studying your audience and subject, you developed a mind map and rehearsed so you did not need notes, and you were comfortable in your delivery. You are now an effective and successful public speaker.

 

Basic Business Cents

Successful Public Speaking

So you have been asked to give a talk; are you excited or apprehensive? It doesn’t make any difference if you prepare and rehearse properly, you will become comfortable with your ability to effectively get your message across. It doesn’t matter if your talk is 5 minutes to your church group, 20 minutes to Rotary or Lions, or an hour key-note address to a large crowd, the home-work is the same.

Harvey Mackay, author of Outswimming the Sharks, said, “The best way to sound like you know what you are talking about is to know what you are talking about.” It is important to research and study your subject so that you can develop a focused message that will be a valuable take-away for the audience. But it may be more important to research and study your anticipated audience. Ask yourself what are they interested in and what are their expectations. Relate your message in terms of benefits to the audience. They are not there to hear how smart or how eloquent you are, they are there to hopefully hear something that might be useful to them.

A secret weapon in speaking is to create a mind map that can be visualized. Start by dividing your talk into three main points you wish the audience to remember. Place them in three circles on a sheet of paper and add additional points radiating from the appropriate circle. If you try to put your talk into a standard outline form, you force your brain to think serially and it just doesn’t work well that way. Thoughts come randomly and they can be placed on the proper circle as they come to mind. Keep audience interest by adding stories or anecdotes to emphasis points throughout the talk.

Having done this in your preparation, you will be surprised at how you remember this map in the delivery of the talk. You will find that you may not need notes, or at least only this one page. When finished with this map, you have the body of your message detailed and only now it is time to develop the introduction and conclusion. A professional speaker once told me that the audience will only remember three things after your talk; the introduction, the conclusion, and the stories. This is rather disheartening after you have studied your subject so hard but there is probably more truth to it that you might like. This only emphasizes that your stories must be relevant and properly enforcing key points of your message.  Stories and anecdotes keep the audience interest and, properly used, reinforce key points of your message.

The introduction should be a “grabber” to get the audience attention. The conclusion should be a memorable one-line summary of your key points that leaves the audience on a high note.

Next comes rehearsal- practice, practice, practice. When you think you are ready, ask a friend to listen to you or tape yourself so you can listen and learn. Practicing out loud is important. When you become satisfied and comfortable with your talk, you are ready for the delivery.

First of all, remember to teach and not preach; the audience will appreciate you more and you will be more effective. Pay attention to your appearance and personality. The audience will feed off of what they see of you. If you look like you are having fun, they will have fun. If you appear dismayed, they will be also. Put a smile on your face; be confident, and enthusiastic. Be animated, energetic, gesture, and be alive. Maintain eye contact and talk to the audience, not at them. Be engaged with the audience, ask for questions if you like, or use other means to get them involved. Any talk worth listening to, is worth learning by the speaker, so don’t ever read your talk. If you use slides, remember no more than three lines per slide and no more than three words per line. Use slides to emphasize points, not as an outline to follow.

The talk may be over but not your effort. Write a hand-written not to the person responsible for your speaking opportunity. Take time to criticize your performance and list what you can do to improve next time. Obtain email addresses of attendees to expand your network. If questions were raised and you are not satisfied with your answers, follow up with a short email containing further thoughts.

You prepared well by studying your audience and subject, you developed a mind map and rehearsed so you did not need notes, and you were comfortable in your delivery. You are now an effective and successful public speaker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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