Uneasy about that next presentation? Taking your speech to the next level—possibly even from dull to dynamic—is as simple as incorporating these top ten speaking tips. Here are the first five and I’ll post the next five in a couple of weeks.
First, get off to a good start by using an attention device such as a quotation, story, or startling statement. I might start a presentation on overcoming stage fright with a quotation from Maggie Kuhn, “Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind—even if your voice shakes.” A startling statement might be, “The divorce rate for couples with a special needs child is over 80%.”
Second, know as much about your audience as you can. The more you know about the audience, the more effective your presentation will be. Talk to people who will be in your audience. Ask questions of the person who requested you to speak. Go online and find out as much as you can about the group from a relevant website. Obtaining as much information as possible about the audience will also encourage you to think more about specific audience needs as you prepare your speech.
Third, practice your speech at least three times. To get better at golf, you have to practice. To get better at tennis, you have to practice. To present a great speech, you must practice! Practice once when you have a rough draft, practice another time when you have the content pretty well completed, and then do a dress rehearsal. Go through the speech as though you are in front of the live audience. If you don’t practice, then your actual speech is a practice session; too much is at stake for you to practice in front of your real audience.
Fourth, choose material that you get excited about. It is hard to have enthusiasm for material that is uninteresting to you. If you have several examples or case studies to choose from and they are all equal in value to your topic, pick the ones that engage you the most. Audience members can see and feel your excitement—or your indifference. If the audience can tell you do not buy into the material, then they won’t either.
Fifth, pick out friendly faces to speak to. Don’t concentrate on the people with frowns or those who fold their arms when you begin your speech. Look at the friendly faces who are smiling at you. Of course, you have to smile as you begin in order to stimulate the return smiles. If you try to win over an indifferent or negative person, your energy will be depleted and you can lose your concentration. Friendly faces will also help you overcome any nervousness you may feel at the beginning of your presentation.
[The next five tips will be posted in a couple of weeks. If you can’t wait, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request the other five tips.]