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How To Support A Speaker – The Accidental Communicator

How To Support A Speaker

You can make a difference when someone else speaks
You can make a difference when someone else speaks
Image Credit: O’Reilly Internal

As speakers, we tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the importance of public speaking and how we speak. We try to find ways to connect with our audience and we try to be aware of anything that we are doing that might take away from our speech. However, it turns out that we also have another job that we need to be doing. We have to help out our friends and colleagues who are giving speeches. Since this is something that we have spent time trying to become better at, we are the ones who are best positioned to be able to help them to become better also. What we need to learn to do is to help them during the three stages of their speaking.


Making Sure That They Have A Point

As a speaker, you understand that every time somebody takes the stage, they are doing it for a reason. What this means is that you need to help your friend make their next speech be successful. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to hear them as they practice the speech that they are planning on giving. The one thing that you don’t want to do during this practice session is to just give pleasant feedback such as “you are doing a good job” and “great”.

Instead, what you are going to want to do is to listen very carefully. What you are looking for is to identify what the main point of their speech is. When they deliver their speech for real, this is what their audience will be looking for. When they are done practicing their speech, you’ll want to tell them what you think the main point of their speech was. By doing this you’ll be able to determine if what they thought that they were talking about is what you ended up hearing.


Supporting Their Speech

Once all of the practicing is done, it’s time for the real thing. You’ll want to attend their speech in order to show them support. Make sure that you sit somewhere where you will be visible to them during their speech. As they give their speech, make sure that you nod in agreement to what they are saying. By doing this you will be telling the speaker that you are hearing what they are saying and you are agreeing with it. When the speaker sees you doing this, they will interpret it as a sign of support.

While you listen to your friend give their speech, make sure that you project interest and attention onto them. Don’t play with your phone during their speech. Make sure that you lean forward in your chair and show interest in what they are saying. Always be the first one who starts to applaud when the speech is over.


Provide Valuable Feedback

As speakers, we all understand that every time that we give a speech, we are really practicing for the next time that we’ll be giving a speech. This means that once the speech is over, you have an important job to let your friend know how they did. Once again, just telling them “great job” or “you nailed it” won’t provide them with any valuable information that they can use to become a better speaker.

The key message that you are going to want to provide them with is if you feel that they were successful in getting their main point across. A great question to ask your friend is what action they think that the audience will take based on hearing their speech. In the end, this will be the clearest indicator if the audience was able to understand the speaker’s main point.


What All Of This Means For You

As speakers we have a unique set of skills – we know what it takes to deliver an effective speech to share the benefits of public speaking. When one of our friends or colleagues is asked to give a speech, this provides us with an opportunity to lend them a helping hand. We need to make sure that we understand what type of help that we can provide them with and when in the speaking process we can provide it.

When our friend is practicing the speech that they want to give, we need to be willing to play the role of the audience. We have to avoid giving them meaningless pleasant feedback. Instead, we should listen to try to understand what their main point is and then tell them what we think it is in order to get their agreement. During their speech we need to make sure that we are sitting somewhere that we will be visible to our friend. During their speech we need to nod and keep our focus on them. Once the speech is over, your job is not yet done. You are the one who will need to provide your friend with feedback on how the speech went. Instead of just providing them with complements, instead let them know if you feel that the audience will be motivated to take action based on what they said.

Being a speaker means that we have a special and unique set of skills. We have an obligation to use these skills to help out our friends and coworkers when they are called on to give a speech. We need to make sure that we understand how we can help them out and what kinds of assistance we can provide them with at the different stages of their speech giving process. If we can successfully provide them with the support that they need, then perhaps they will be willing to provide us with the same level of support the next time that you get to give a speech!


– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™


Question For You: How critical of your friend’s speech do you think that you should be?


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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As speakers, we tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the importance of public speaking and how we speak. We try to find ways to connect with our audience and we try to be aware of anything that we are doing that might take away from our speech. However, it turns out that we also have another job that we need to be doing. We have to help out our friends and colleagues who are giving speeches. Since this is something that we have spent time trying to become better at, we are the ones who are best positioned to be able to help them to become better also. What we need to learn to do is to help them during the three stages of their speaking.