|Editor’s Note: This article has been selected to be included in Angela DeFinis’ “Public Speaking And The New Year” Blog Carnival. This Carnival can be found online at: http://www.definiscommunications.com/blog/public-speaking-and-the-new-year/
Happy New Year! As we start yet another a new year, you may be asking yourself what is the best way for me to become a better public speaker this year? Taking a crash course in which you immerse yourself in all of the subtle tricks of effective speaking is one way. Giving a million speeches and then studying how both yourself and your audience reacted is another.
The problem with both of these approaches is that they take time. Too much time. A much better way to quickly improve is to find a professional speaker who is doing it right and ask them how they do it…
Meet A Pro
Shawn Doyle has been a professional speaker for over 19 years. During that time he’s made mistakes. Lots of mistakes. The good news for you is that he took the time to remember what he did wrong and made sure that he never repeated a mistake.
He’s come up with his list of the “top 10” things that you just can’t learn in a class. Instead, these are the speaking lessons that all professional speakers end up learning on the road. Since you are reading this, just maybe you’ll learn them here and you won’t have to learn them the hard way!
10 Tips For Giving A Professional Speech
- Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: I’m going to bet that I’ve fooled you on this one: I’m not talking about practicing saying your speech. Instead, I’m talking about taking the time to know your audience: how old are they, what do they do for a living, what are they expecting from you.
- Become A Space-Man: The effectiveness of your speech will be heavily influenced by where you end up giving it. The room, the lighting, the sound system, etc. will all play a role in determining if you are able to connect with your audience. You need to arrive early and check out the room where you’ll be speaking. It will be too late to make any changes if you show up just before you go on.
- It’s All In The Opening: Welcome to the age of instant-everything. We can download movies, cook a complete dinner in a microwave in minutes, and purchase almost anything over the Internet. If the opening for your speech is long, slow, and boring then you’ll lose your audience right off the bat. You need to grab them at the start and never let go.
- Talk With Your Hands: When you are giving a speech, your hands are an incredibly powerful communication tool that you can use to boost the impact of your speech. If you are holding on to something (a pen, a piece of paper) while you talk, then your ability to use this tool is greatly diminished. Keep â€˜em free!
- Stop Hiding Behind PowerPoint: Ouch! This one probably hits all of us hard. We’ve worked hard to make a great set of slides and we love to use them. Stop! You are the presentation, not your slides. Don’t use PowerPoint if you can get away with it or use it sparingly if you have to. Don’t hide behind your slides.
- Go For A Walk: All too often speakers will plant themselves behind a lectern and stay there during your entire speech. If you do this, then you will have missed an opportunity to engage your audience by moving around. Use your entire body and where you are standing to emphasize the point that you are currently making.
- Use Your Own Stories: Forget those “Chicken Soup For The …” books, when you use someone else’s story it comes out much weaker than when you tell your own story. Doyle suggests that you use the following formula for creating and telling a story: story + moral + how it relates to the topic = great story.
- Never, Ever, Apologize: Too often speakers spend much of their speech apologizing for a wide variety of things: the room being too cold, their slides not being in the right order, etc. Stop it! When you apologize, your audience starts to see you in a different light — a negative light. Just skip the apology and move on.
- You Must Believe To Achieve: In order for your speech to have an impact on your audience, they are going to have to believe that you believe what you are saying. If you are just mouthing words that you don’t fully buy into, then you will come across as insincere and your message will have no lasting impact.
- Think About Your Audience: All too often we write the speeches that we’d like to hear. The problem with this is that we are not necessarily the same as our audience. Your speech must be about your audience and what they want, not about you and what you want.
What All This Means For You
As long as you are going to go to the effort of creating and delivering a speech, you may as well do a good job of it. The challenge that we all face is finding ways to become better at giving our speeches so that we can have a greater impact on our audience.
There are a lot of different ways to go about improving our skills; however, one of the simplest and best ways is to get guidance from professionals who have already gone out there and learned the lessons that you want to know.
I’ve listed 10 suggestions from a pro that should go a long way in helping you to avoid making some of the more common mistakes that speakers make. Read, learn, and get out there and speak like a pro!
Do you think that you could feel comfortable giving a speech without using any PowerPoint slides?
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Just how does one become a better public speaker? I mean let’s be serious here, you do want to get better, don’t you? Good news — I’m going to tell you how (and it’s free!) …