Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You're on before you're on

Many public speakers get nervous before a presentation. If your nervous tension disappears after a few minutes of speaking, then you simply have “starter’s gun” nerves. It is this that makes most people pace nervously in the wings before they get up to speak. If this is you, it may be helpful to put the image of a sprinter and starter’s gun in mind, but make sure that the gun went off well before you started speaking.

Here are a few ways that can help to get your session started before you're actually on stage:

1. If possible, mingle beforehand with the audience. Ask questions that get them on topic and get you thinking about your message.

2. Put a topic handout on the seats so that people can get into your message and what you are all about before you start speaking.

3. Play music to warm up the room.

4. Send out an email to attendees letting them know who you are and what the session is going to be about.

5. If you are speaking at a venue-based conference, consider a pre-event room-drop of handouts relevant to your topic.

You get to choose when your session actually starts.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Move and Groove

One of the most distracting habits a presenter can develop when speaking in public, is poor body movement.

Every move you make when presenting, should support your message. If you are talking about big things, make a big movement. Some people pace in an attempt to engage the audience, when all they really project is a sense of indecision about their direction.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Stand still when making important points.
2. Move with a medium to slow pace from one side of the stage to the other if required.
3. In the Western world, the audience to the left is the past and to the right is the future. Move from left to right as your point unfolds.
4. Move into the audience if you wish to create better engagement.
5. The centre front of the stage is the most powerful area to communicate inspirational messages.

Move with purpose when you are presenting.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Mathematics of Retention

Too often when speaking in public, presenters try to give you all of their information. To be world class, don’t make too many points within your speech. Five points, give or take up to two, is the rule. We tend to retain what we can count on one hand. Presenters who presume to teach 21 tips in 21 minutes are pretty content-centred, and do not really respect the mathematics of retention.

Some tips:

1. Have 3-7 core messages to your presentation
2. Every 7-15 minutes or so, introduce a new point
3. Always have less rather than more. Fear makes us over-prepare content
4. Have a “bare bones” version of your speech prepared with 1-3 points only
5. Always have one overarching point for every speech, and make this very clear

Less is more.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Read books, not speeches

When giving a presentation, you should not read your speech to your audience.

Only those whose words get scrutinised, translated or pulled apart should read their speech; even then it is a communication compromise. We can read your speech online or in an abstract.

If the speech is for those in the room (as opposed to some audience outside of the environment) then you are better off talking from knowledge and adjusting the content to suit the audience dynamics.

Some tips:

1. Write your first draft in long hand form then chunk it down into changeable segments.

2. Learn the 5 segments of your speech, not the words.

3. Summarise the whole speech into one sheet of paper.

4. Memorise your key points, but not necessarily their order of delivery

5. Create a visual that summarises your whole speech, and if you get lost, refer back to it

Reading is a solo activity for adults.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The message continues once you have gone

Make a difference with your presentation.

Great public speakers use speaking as a means to an end. They don't get caught up in the speech. They realise that the speech is simply part of a larger process.

So what is the "bigger process" that your speech is a part of? Scope that out for people, so that they know what you're thinking, and where your message fits into the scheme of things.

Here are a few ideas to keep your message going once you've left the stage:

1. Map out the larger process that your speech is a part of, and address it in your speech.

2. Suggest action steps for people in your sessions.

3. Have an email follow-up system that automatically reminds people of their commitment made during their session.

4. Send out a white paper or e-book after your session as a bonus to those who commit to reading their notes within 3 days of attending your speech.

5. Find ways to stay in relationships with your audiences. Collecting emails for permission-based e-zines is a great way to do this.

It's not over when you stop talking.