12 TIPS FOR PUBLIC SPEAKING
There are few skills that will bring more opportunity into your life than the ability to speak well in public. Below are 12 tips that can make the difference between those speakers who leave a powerful, positive impression and those that are quickly forgotten.
Speak with an intent to move people to action. Know what you want your audience to do immediately after hearing your speech. If nobody does anything different than they would have done before you spoke – the value of your speech is zero.
Start strong with a “grabber”. A personal story, a quote from an expert or a shocking statistic – something that takes a hold of your audience and gets them hooked and opens their mind to your message. Give the audience a chance to see your personal connection to the topic.
Structure your material in three sections – grabber, middle, close. Know your material. Get really interested in the topic. Find good stories.
Practice. Practice. Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Work to control filler words; Practice, pause and breathe. Use a clock to check your timings and allow time for the unexpected.
Know the audience. Try to speak to one or two people in the audience as they arrive – they will be your allies in the audience – it is easier to speak to friends than to strangers.
Know the setup. Arrive in good time to check out the speaking area and get practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
Relax. Begin with a well prepared grabber. A relevant personal story is a great start. It establishes your credibility. It connects you to the audience and creates the right emotional atmosphere (and calms your nerves).
Visualize yourself successful. See yourself at the end of the speech surrounded by people asking questions, visualize the applause.
Pauses. Include 3-8 second pauses at key moments – just before key statements or just after a story – this really brings the audience into the speech.
Don’t apologize. The audience probably never noticed it.
Smile. Look like the content matters to you – if the audience don’t feel that it is important to you, it will be really hard for them to feel that it should be important for them.
Get experience. Take every opportunity you can get to speak (and listen to other speakers). Prepare well ahead of time. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking.
A final note on practice: There are many resources available for those who decide that they wish to become influential. However, nothing can help the person who does not practice. No tool is as powerful in allowing you to practice than the webcam. Make it a habit to switch on the webcam for 3 minutes each day and practice expressing yourself. Explain why your project is important. Explain why someone should work on your team. Explain your tips for success in your business. Practice your answer to “tell me about yourself?”
A great musician practices a symphony hundreds of times before playing it in front of an audience. A great speaker practices the words before they find themselves on the spot.
Malcolm Gladwell made famous the idea that we need 10,000 hours of practice in order to become a world-class performer. It may take many years before you accumulate 10,000 hours of practice, but there are big steps forward in your influence at 1, 10 and 100 hours of practice.