How To Be A Better Public Speaker
Twelve Points On How To Improve Your Public Speaking
Here are twelve useful pointers to help public speakers of all abilities improve their speaking delivery and presentations.
We have worked with and continue to represent and encourage the development of hundreds of speaking professionals. Some of the advice we outline below is common sense. However when put under the pressure that is preparing to speak in front of an audience of either thousands or just ten people the basics often get overlooked. There are also a few other useful tips for future proofing your speaking for guidance.
Public speaking is a super useful tool to have whether or not you are a professional speaker or you are looking to communicate more effectively to further your career.
Here are some useful tips to help improve your speaking:
1. Keep it simple. You already have an interested audience in front of you. They don’t need all your detail, just a snapshot summary will be enough. You don’t want to put them to sleep. Less is definitely best for public speakers.
2. Know from the beginning what your message or objective is that you are trying to communicate. If you are a speaker you should almost certainly have spoken with the client in advance to understand why they invited you and the purpose in mind that you can focus in on. Nail down the detail (see point 4).
3. Practice paying particular attention to precise timing and content delivery. If it’s a forty minute speech make sure you’re speaking for no more or less than two minutes either side of your allocated slot. If you are feeling that you’re repeating yourself then wrap it up and learn for the next time.
4. Nail down the small details no later than 48 hours prior to the event. When speaking with the client confirm not only your message output but also the prep needed to deliver it effectively. This includes checking options for a button, hand-held or even no microphone; how you are to be introduced; at what stage within the programme, and the positioning of the lectern and screen to show your visuals. Confirm all the above no more than seven days in advance of your booking. Speaking to them any further in advance is not so good, as they’ll be focussed on other things as will you.
5. Merchandising opportunities. Often clients purchase and gift books by speakers to attendees. Many audiences and clients may provide opportunities and welcome the selling of publications. You may also initiate introductions that lead to future business opportunities. If relevant to you, then ask your client in the preparation stages about this as it will be too late and confusing on the day.
6. Use strong audio visual support but keep it short. In 2013 audiences expect video and sound on big screens. You really should be trying to stay clear of Powerpoint. If you are relatively unknown or to wake up an audience have an energising 20 – 40 second video introduction played. Always carry back-up AV. Even though you’re likely to be using a clients computer we recommend speakers do bring their own laptop and AV adapter cable kit for back-up. Your presentation should be sent ahead to the client for preparation 24 – 48 hours before the event.
7. Interaction is key. You may have launched the world’s best internet company or won Olympic Gold, but this doesn’t mean you are an equally talented speaker. Remember people want to see you as you are but are also looking to try to understand what it is that you have done to be so successful (more than them!). Relate to your audience and they’ll listen and enjoy you more. Be both personal and sincere.
8. Timings and arrangements should allow for disasters when public speaking. You should always be at least one hour early and allow for face time with your audience thereafter. You’ll be chastised and stressed should you arrive late no matter how good your talk is or who you are. Being late can never happen.
9. Meeting your host is key. Take time to meet, befriend and exchange cards with your host and their colleagues. Feedback and potential future bookings are positively influenced by doing so.
10. Enjoy it. You’re gifted and someone has paid for the privilege of listening to you. Remember public speaking scares most people, see it as not fear but excitement.
11. Refresh your content. You’ll be yesteryears speaker and bookings will fall off if you don’t. Seek new challenges, refresh your video, draw on others recent experiences if you have nothing new of your own.
12. Follow up the next day with a thank you email and request feedback either good or bad. It’s useful for your development as a speaker and for promotional materials.
If you cover the twelve points above you’ll be on your way to delivering a highly effective presentation as a strong speaker. In doing so demand for you as a public speaker should increase.
Director, PROMOTIVATE Speakers Agency, Europe & Latin America
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