Successful Public Speaking can increase your business by 300% and is well worth the time and effort it takes to improve. Below are just a few important tips to help you hone your skills and achieve the audience response you desire:
1. THE COMPONENTS OF YOUR TALK
a. The introduction: You have 30-60 seconds to impress! Begin in a way that is authentically you but will capture their interest. Consider, a parenthetical question, a story, a humorous line, a shocking statistic related to the topic or a line with reflects your genuine interest in the group you are addressing.
b. Content which includes all or most of the following:
ii. Proven Facts or Statistics related to the topic
iii. Thought provoking insights
iv. Inspirational material
v. Stories – can be your own or that of others
vi. Quotes related to the topic
vii. Fresh Ideas or Effective Applications to resolving the topic
viii. Tie ins – Try to make certain points tie into previous points made
ix. Parenthetical or Actual Questions for the audience to consider
x. Props – items that will leave a “visual image” in their minds
c. A closing that recaps what they have learned
d. An opportunity for interaction and/or Q&A
2. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE – This cannot be stressed enough. You should run through your talk multiple times to ensure you are able to focus on the audience and how you present rather than WHAT you are presenting. The WHAT should already be etched into your subconscious before you get in front of a group
3. BE AUTHENTICALLY YOU! – This is another BIG ONE! Nothing can disenchant an audience more than when you come across like you are copying material or style from another speaker no matter how good they may be. Your method of delivery should reflect you uniquely and allow you to just be yourself at the front of the room. If you are passionate about a portion of the talk, get passionate. If you are saddened by a portion, express a little sadness, if you are touched, slow down and really connect with people. If you are sharing something funny, laugh out loud and allow some time to let others laugh with you before moving to the next point.
4. YOUR APPEARANCE AND NONVERBALS must reflect how you want others to see you.
a. Your DRESS – If you dress casual or frumpy, they may see your talk in the same way and may not accept what you have to say as intelligent. You may need to invest in a couple of outfits to use for speaking.
i. If you need help picking the best outfit for your presentation, don’t be afraid to ask someone who always dresses sharp.
b. Your FACIAL EXPRESSIONS – If you look worried or nervous, they will get worried or nervous. Spend a few minutes before your talk with some affirmations and perhaps a few “power poses” (watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on Body Language). If you practiced the material, take a deep breath and SMILE!
c. Your HAND AND BODY POSITION – If you are slumped over with your hands in the fig leaf position, you will come across insecure and uncertain. On the other hand if you are standing very tall with good posture, using your hands appropriately in speaking, you will appear confident and “in charge of the room”.
i. Practice your position and stance in the mirror prior to your speech or video tape yourself so you can pick up on the areas you must improve.
5. CONNECT – You must make every effort to connect with audience, through eye contact, interaction, humor, smiles and authenticity in verbal and nonverbal expression. Pay close attention to the energy and response in the room. If you sense you are losing them, ask a question, tell an engaging story, interject appropriate humor or raise the energy in your tone of voice to a level that engages them.
6. VISUALS – If you are using a PPT, be sure to use pictures more than words to share your points. If you have to use words, keep it to very short bullets or key words leaving the rest to you for the explanations. Nothing is more distracting that reading right off the ppt or losing the audience because they are reading, If you are using PROPS make them impactful
7. DON’T BE INFALLIBLE – We are all human. If you happen to make a mistake, gloss it over quickly with a silly statement, a joke or just laugh at yourself. If it is insignificant, ignore it and keep on going. Your audience knows you are not perfect and you may even connect more with them when they can see that you are normal like the rest of us!
Speaking can be the most challenging but the most rewarding asset you possess in your arsenal of business skills. Just as any other skill, it takes, time, practice and perseverance. For all of us, it is a succession of constant efforts for improvement. However, if you are determined to do what it takes, you can master not only yourself, but you can learn to captivate your audience.
Wishing you the very best of success in your speaking endeavors!