Public Speaking 101

why-the-heck-would-i-want-to-speak-in-public

When one of people’s greatest fears is the fear of public speaking, why would you want to? Well, the answer is simple. It is one of the best ways for people to get to know you, what you’re about, your expertise, and your personality. Here are some tips that will help make your speaking engagement as successful (and painless) as possible.

Make some friends before your talk. In the moments before your presentation, introduce yourself to some of your audience. Welcome them. Ask their names and what brings them to your session. This will give you a few friends to connect with later during your talk.

They are not there to judge you. Attendees are there to hear what you have to say and find out how that can help them.

Choose a topic that you are passionate about. If you don’t really care about the topic, neither will your audience. Your passion will make up for any lack of polish.

Make sure you know your topic inside and out. It’s one thing to be passionate, but if you are spouting unsubstantiated “hearsay”, people will see through you and tune you out.

Be authentic. That’s a bit of a jargon way of saying, be yourself. Don’t try to be some slick pitchman when that’s not you. Your honesty and sincerity will make people root for you, even if you struggle.

Know that you don’t need to fill every second. It’s not only ok to pause and say nothing while gathering your thoughts, it’s sometimes desirable to let an idea sink in to the audience’s mind. Give them a moment to think about what you just said.

If you’re using Powerpoint, don’t read your slides. First you should try not to have a great deal of text on your slides. Pictures are always better. If you do have text, it should serve only as a highlight to your talking points and the audience can read them for themselves.

Leave them with a takeaway. Always make sure you give your audience something that they can take with them that they can use right away. “So, with this information in mind, go out and…”

Plan on finishing early. Respect their time. If you have a few moments left over you can answer a question or two, but running long can leave people checking their watches and not listening to you. As they say, “Always leave them wanting more.”

Public speaking is one of the best ways to get your ideas across, demonstrate your expertise, and get known by you target audience. With practice and by following a few simple tips, you can make your presentations a success for both you and your audience.

One of my favorite presenters, Ken Robinson. (See him on TED)

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