In recognition of Clearpoint Agency’s 10 year anniversary, our content will be featuring posts all year long about the number 10. From “10 Social Marketing Tips You May Have Missed” to “10 Reasons to Blog,” we’ll brighten your appreciation for all things 10. Have a tenacious idea? Let us know!
Researchers tell us that the fear of public speaking is one of the top 10 fears that people express. An entire industry has sprung up to help speakers deal with this anxiety, including US-based organizations such as Toastmasters International or POWERtalk International and the Association of Speakers Clubs in England, as well as many academic training courses in presentation skills that help people reduce the fear to manageable levels.
We think all these resources are great, but some speakers just need to boost their confidence a bit more by ensuring their content is worthy and that they know the basics. We work with many clients to help them develop better presentations. The ten tips below are ones that we have found will help you master the art of public speaking and be interesting to your audience.
1.Is your topic compelling?Is your topic worth the time it takes you to put it together and the time for your audience to sit through? Put it to the test by asking a couple of colleagues to give you honest feedback on whether your topic reaches your goals to entertain, persuade or educate. Does it have impact and timeliness; does it identify or create controversy and put forth a clear position? Be sure to assess the attention value, topic prominence, conflict, uniqueness and worthiness for your audience.
2.Know your audience.Customize your examples so that the analogies really speak to them and make obscure points clearer. In some cases, you may even want to conduct research or do a survey of your anticipated audience so you can be sure you are hitting their hot buttons.
3.Research but don’t plagiarize. It’s always a good idea to make sure you are up to date on the topic you’ve chosen, so check the Internet for information, articles, or news coverage that may have come out about your topic recently. But be careful not to accidentally steal someone else’s ideas. If you are using a particular reference for credibility, be sure to source it.
4.Use specifics to create believability. What is the biggest criticism you hear about political speeches, for example? It’s usually that they are full of platitudes, but too vague and short on substance. Don’t make the mistake the politicians do! Use facts and figures to support your premise, but remember to be selective. If you overwhelm your audience with too many numbers, you will lose them.
5.A picture truly is worth a thousand words. Maybe you are using a PowerPoint®, but don’t make it boring with text bullet point after bullet point – add some art! No Powerpoint? Ok, what other visuals could you use that will make an impression? Photos, interesting art, props, charts and graphs help to make a speech more interesting and memorable.
6.Master the flow. Keep your introduction short and pithy. Give some information that people might not expect. You have only a few minutes to capture their attention so use it wisely; let them know why this topic is relevant to them. Then deliver your information clearly with life and enthusiasm in your voice. And be sure to pause before you make your final point or conclusion. Don’t make them guess that this is the important stuff! Signal it by recapping the key points and then emphasizing the end – with impact!
7.Your body language has impact, too. Stand or sit straight and tall so you can present with authority. Keep your voice well-modulated. Make sure your clothing, makeup and appearance fit the occasion and do not distract from the topic at hand. Gesture naturally, as you would in a group of close friends. Most important of all, make eye contact with your audience. Let everyone in the room know that you are speaking to them.
8.Practice, practice, practice! Many people think that once they have developed the topic and written out their notes, they know it well enough to just deliver it on the fly the day of the engagement. And perhaps you are one of those lucky few who really can do this. But if you’re not, or if this is a new topic that you haven’t delivered before, take the time a couple of days before, to work out the kinks. You’ll be glad you did!
9.Don’t forget to publicize your speaking engagements! Don’t just send a calendar item to the events editor. Research appropriate reporters for the news topic and let them know about the engagement, including a few key points that might interest them in writing a story. Put a news release out over a wire service, too – you would be amazed at the pickup you’ll get, which will help with search engine optimization of your website, too.
10.Don’t play hard to get! After you have completed your delivery, be available to the members of the audience for a few minutes. Some people would rather speak to you in person to get more information or your card than to follow up by phone or email. If you have media interview requests, make yourself available soon for an interview to maximize your exposure.
Best of luck with your next speaking engagement. If you think you need more training, we are here to help you.
To get the recognition you deserve, contact us at Clearpoint Agency, www.clearpointagency.com
This post was contributed by Beth Walsh, Clearpoint Agency Vice President