When we think about speaking in public, we normally think about one thing – ourselves. However, it turns out that that we really should be thinking bigger: how can we help other speakers do better? Since we know what it’s like to stand in front of an audience and try to give a speech, we have a special obligation to use this knowledge to make the speeches that we attend become better speeches. Read on and find out what your new assignment is…
Keeping Calm When Nobody Else Is
As speakers we all know that there are many things that can happen during a speech that are out of control of the speaker. These can include such distractions as audience members’ cell phones going off, fire alarms sounding, microphones that stop working, or any one of a number of different laptop related issues.
When you are the speaker and you have an event like this happen, your stress level can start to go through the roof. I mean you are already under a great deal of pressure to give a good speech, and now you have to deal with these additional challenges.
As speakers who are sitting in the audience, we can help a speaker get over these types of unplanned events simply by not reacting to them. Speakers feed off of the mood of their audience. When things start to go wrong, often times the audience will start to become restless or upset. When this happens, it’s very easy for the speaker to start to get upset also – he or she is simply reflecting back to the audience the mood that they are picking up on.
When you are a member of the audience and these types of events start to happen, you can help out the speaker by not getting upset. Let your cool, calm demeanor influence the people sitting around you and help to keep them from becoming restless. The more people that you can influence this way, then the more positive energy will flow up to the speaker. This can significantly help them to stay on track and still give a good speech no matter what goes wrong for them!
Helping Out With The Old Q&A
No matter how clear a speaker is, there will always be questions that the audience has once the speaker is done talking. The audience may have thought up a question early on and has held it until the end of the speech, or perhaps based on their personal experiences they’d like to know how to apply what the speaker was talking about to their life.
The Q&A part of any speech can be a life & death proposition for any speaker. They complete their speech and then ask the audience if they have any questions. The sound of crickets that all too often greets them takes away from whatever they just got done talking about. As an audience, we tend to judge the quality of a speech by the quantity of questions that the speaker gets asked after they are done – more questions must mean that the speech was a good speech.
As speakers in the audience, this is a simple place for us to step in and lend a helping hand to the presenter. We need to listen very closely to the points that they are making in their speech. Then, when the Q&A portion of the speech is announced, we need to immediately raise our hand.
This quick response to the request for questions will minimize the amount of time that the speaker is “hanging” waiting for a question. Next, the question that we ask has to also help the speaker out.
We can make our question help the speaker by making sure that the question reinforces their main point. Questions that contain words like “If I understood your point correctly, …” or “How could I apply that to my situation…” are great ways to do this.
Make sure that our question keeps the speaker on track and allows them to further expound on their main point even as they answer our question. The speaker will be forever grateful to you for allowing them to do this!
What All Of This Means For You
Giving a speech is never easy for anyone. As a speaker, since you know how hard it can be to give a good speech, you have a special obligation when you attend someone else’s speech to do everything that you can to help their speech go well.
Since each speech is a unique performance, you can never be sure just exactly what is going to happen during the speech. That means that you’re going to have to stay alert and look for ways to help out. One way that you can help is by keeping calm if things start to spin out of control during the speech. Another way to help is by being ready to ask good, topical questions if the speaker has a Q&A session.
I firmly believe that by helping out other speakers you can start to build a reputation as a friend to all speakers. When this happens, something magical will start to happen when you give a speech. Other speakers will be motivated to make sure that your speech goes well just like you have been doing for them. Do this often enough, you’ll eventually have your entire audience working to help you deliver the best speech ever!
Question For You: Do you think that you should make contact with a speaker before they give their speech to let them know that you’re them to make things go well for them?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
When you start a speech, you know that the first few words that come out of your mouth have to be interesting to your audience. However, I’m going to take that thought one step further – your first words have to “hook” your audience’s interest. What you say has to catch them off guard, has to intrigue them, has to make them want to hear more. This isn’t easy to do, but I’m going to show you how…