In the Bible, the number seven is identified with something being “finished” or “complete.” We might say the same thing about a dynamic presentation. Here are seven steps that can make your preparation complete or finished.
Begin with an attention device. This might be a startling statement, a statistic, or your own story. Listeners pay close attention when a speaker begins with: “Last night as I was driving home from work,.…” Or you could begin with a current event. “You might have heard about the flood that….” A question is another way to make people listen: “How many of you check your email more than three times a day?” Whatever technique you use, when you grab the attention of the audience, you’re on your way to a successful speech.
Be energetic in delivery. Speak with variety in your voice. Slow down for a dramatic point and speed up to show excitement. Pause occasionally for effect. Don’t just stand behind the lectern, but move a step away to make a point. When you are encouraging your audience, take a step toward them. Demonstrate how something works or looks or moves as you tell about it. Show facial expression; smile when talking about something pleasant and let your face show other emotions as you discuss an event or activity. Make sure your movements have a purpose.
Structure your speech. Don’t include more than two or three main points, and preview in the beginning what those points will be. With each point, include two or three pieces of support, such as examples, definitions, testimony, or statistics. Visual aids are important when you want your audience to understand a process or concept. Tie your points together with transitions.
Tell your own story somewhere in the presentation. Include a personal experience that connects to your speech content, and the audience will connect with you. With about any topic you might choose, you probably have at least one war story to relate to the topic. Just start at the beginning and move chronologically through the narrative, including answers to the “W” questions: who, what, when, why and where.
Look at the audience as you speak. If it is a small audience, you can look at each person in a short period of time. If it is a large audience, look at the audience in small “clumps” and move from one clump to another. One way to ensure good eye contact is to look at your audience before you start to speak. Go to the lectern and pause, smile, look at the audience, and then speak. This will help you maintain good eye contact throughout your presentation as well as command immediate attention.
Include a “wow” factor. Something in your speech should make your audience think, “Wow!” It could be a story, a dramatic point, an unusual statistic, or an effective visual that helps the audience understand immediately. With a “wow” factor, you have something to look forward to in the speech that you know will have an impact on your audience. You’ll become a more enthusiastic speaker because the “wow” factor will get you as well as the audience pumped for the speech.
Leave the audience with something to think about. People remember best what you say last. You might summarize your main points or you might answer the question, “What I want you to do as a result of this present is.…” Beyond that, make your last words a thought to ponder.
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively.
Contact Steve today for priority scheduling!
(859) 441-6520 or email info@SBoyd.com