Entries in public speaking (57)
Are you planning to speak at a conference anytime soon? If so, here are a few basic things to remember... Before you begin speaking... Things to remember when on the stage... And finally, Make sure you know the actual finish time and length of talk, so you finish then, no matter what! M@ Matt Church
Are you planning to speak at a conference anytime soon? If so, here are a few basic things to remember...
Before you begin speaking...
Things to remember when on the stage...
Make sure you know the actual finish time and length of talk, so you finish then, no matter what!
When you are giving a speech or a presentation, it makes it easier for the audience to connect with and understand your message if you consider a visual element and show them your point while you tell it to them.
Any picture representation of your idea will increase audience engagement dramatically. The use of a "big picture" visual allows people to wander on purpose. We cannot speak fast enough for the human brain, so it is natural that some of your audience will not be listening to your words. Allow them to think about your point ahead of you by giving them a visual framework – a map to guide their thoughts.
Here are some different visual elements that you could use:
- Models, based on geometric shapes like circles triangles and squares
- Metaphors and analogies, based on every day life examples that people would know – e.g. the role of a compass or learning to drive
- Icons and symbols that convey meaning without the need for explanation – e.g. a stop sign or crucifix
- An actual picture of your point
- A graph, but not with too much detail
Many public speakers get nervous before a presentation. If your nervous tension disappears after a few minutes of speaking, then you simply have “starter’s gun” nerves. It is this that makes most people pace nervously in the wings before they get up to speak. If this is you, it may be helpful to put the image of a sprinter and starter’s gun in mind, but make sure that the gun went off well before you started speaking.
Here are a few ways that can help to get your session started before you're actually on stage:
1. If possible, mingle beforehand with the audience. Ask questions that get them on topic and get you thinking about your message.
2. Put a topic handout on the seats so that people can get into your message and what you are all about before you start speaking.
3. Play music to warm up the room.
4. Send out an email to attendees letting them know who you are and what the session is going to be about.
5. If you are speaking at a venue-based conference, consider a pre-event room-drop of handouts relevant to your topic.
You get to choose when your session actually starts.
One of the most distracting habits a presenter can develop when speaking in public, is poor body movement.
Every move you make when presenting, should support your message. If you are talking about big things, make a big movement. Some people pace in an attempt to engage the audience, when all they really project is a sense of indecision about their direction.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Stand still when making important points.
2. Move with a medium to slow pace from one side of the stage to the other if required.
3. In the Western world, the audience to the left is the past and to the right is the future. Move from left to right as your point unfolds.
4. Move into the audience if you wish to create better engagement.
5. The centre front of the stage is the most powerful area to communicate inspirational messages.
Move with purpose when you are presenting.
Too often when speaking in public, presenters try to give you all of their information. To be world class, don’t make too many points within your speech. Five points, give or take up to two, is the rule. We tend to retain what we can count on one hand. Presenters who presume to teach 21 tips in 21 minutes are pretty content-centred, and do not really respect the mathematics of retention.
1. Have 3-7 core messages to your presentation
2. Every 7-15 minutes or so, introduce a new point
3. Always have less rather than more. Fear makes us over-prepare content
4. Have a “bare bones” version of your speech prepared with 1-3 points only
5. Always have one overarching point for every speech, and make this very clear
Less is more.
When giving a presentation, you should not read your speech to your audience.
Only those whose words get scrutinised, translated or pulled apart should read their speech; even then it is a communication compromise. We can read your speech online or in an abstract.
If the speech is for those in the room (as opposed to some audience outside of the environment) then you are better off talking from knowledge and adjusting the content to suit the audience dynamics.
1. Write your first draft in long hand form then chunk it down into changeable segments.
2. Learn the 5 segments of your speech, not the words.
3. Summarise the whole speech into one sheet of paper.
4. Memorise your key points, but not necessarily their order of delivery
5. Create a visual that summarises your whole speech, and if you get lost, refer back to it
Reading is a solo activity for adults.
Acknowledge interference. When something goes wrong and it's not your fault, be cool enough to acknowledge it. Continuing robotically with your message highlights your desire to deliver and get off the stage. Be cool with stuff going wrong, and bring it out into the open.
Here are some examples:
1. If someone walks across your stage, you may have a one-liner like, "Don't worry, it's just a stage you're going through."
2. Playfully pose for the photographer as they try to catch you in an action shot.
3. If you stuff up a word, laugh and say something like "Ha! There goes my brain running faster than my mouth, but that's nice - it's usually the other way around."
4. If the AV technician needs to adjust your wireless microphone mid-flight, you may want to say something like, "Look, I don't have time to dance with you."
Stay cool. It's not about perfection; it's live. Make it real.
When presenting to an audience, a deadly silence often follows these three words. Or worse, you ask the question and get the super personal, interesting only to the person asking it kind of question. You know the "ummm my Uncle Luigi has gout, what can I do about that?"
Here are some ideas to help you get better at managing the question and answer segments in your speeches, and maybe even create some magical improvisation moments.
Be careful what you ask for.
Don't ask for questions unless you're okay with having people question what you say. Be prepared for detractors, challengers and those who want to drill down (interrogation style) to see what lies behind your claim to authority.
Don't ask for questions only.
Instead, invite interaction through a three tiered approach: which is "does anyone have any questions (new content), any clarifications (previous content) or simply want to make a statement (shares the expertise)?"
Don't cold call for questions.
Give the people in the room a chance to discuss their questions with the person next to them before you ask them to ask it in front of 1500 people. Just imagine, you were nervous and you knew you would speak, how must they be feeling?
Poll the room.
Hand out question cards that the audience can fill in ahead of time, or during your presentation. You deal with the questions live without having to single out the person asking.
Don't wait till it's all over.
Set up a question and answer session about three quarters of the way through your talk. It's hard to finish on a high when you have to answer questions.
Listen slow and answer fast.
When someone is asking a question slow the pace a little. Restate what they said, listen harder than you normally do. Often the peak adrenaline state while speaking can cause you to appear impatient. Remember, you are on and working at the speed of thought, the audience may not be.
Don't answer the question.
Sometimes the specific answer to a question is not what the audience member was actually looking for. Answer the better question that is behind the one asked. The content, or the detail of almost any question is always part of something bigger and possibly more generically interesting to the room.
Get better at managing the question and answer segments in your speeches.