Missed Opportunities In Public Speaking

If we're not careful, we can end up missing opportunities to improve when we speak
If we’re not careful, we can end up missing opportunities to improve when we speak
Image Credit: Kate Sumbler

Every time that we give a speech we need to realize the importance of public speaking and that we have an opportunity to become a better speaker. However, if we don’t take the time to study how our speech goes or how our audience reacts to what we are telling them, then we run the risk of missing an opportunity to become better. The key to this kind of improvement is awareness – our ability to spot any mistakes that we’re making.

Grab Them At The Start

So just exactly how long do you have to capture your audience’s attention when you first start speaking? It turns out that the answer is roughly 30 seconds. If you are not able to both grab and hold on to your audience’s attention in this time period, then you will have lost most of them for the rest of your speech. What this means for you is that when you are building your speech, you are going to have to spend some time thinking about how best to come out of the gate with a bang!

The Present Beats The Past Every Time

More often than not, we include stories in our speech. Now this is a good thing; however, in order to be effective, stories have to be presented the right way. What this means for us is that we need to make sure that we bring our audience along when we are telling the story. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is if we just tell a story. A much better way to present a story is to invite our audience into our story and though the use of expressions and reactions include them in the story.

Create Characters That Your Audience Will Care About

Every story that is worth telling is filled with characters. What this means for you is that as you create your speech you are going to have to take the time to look at the characters who make up your stories. Your audience is going to have to be able to relate to these characters. You are going to have to take the time in order to find out what characteristics of the characters in your story most closely relate to your audience. Once you know this, you can focus on these characteristics while you are telling your story and you’ll bring your audience along with you.

What All Of This Means For You

I’m pretty sure that we all share the same goal: we’d like to become better public speakers. In order to make that happen, there are a set of things that we need to stop doing and a bunch of things that we need to start to do. The trick is to be able to take the time to learn what we need to learn.

One of the simplest things that we can observe about our next speech is how effective the opening is: did we grab our audience’s attention. How we tell our stories is also critical: bringing our stories into the present will make them more “real” to our audience than if we tell them in the past. Finally, as we tell stories we need to take the time to make the characters in our stories ones that our audience will actually care about.

The good news is that one of the benefits of public speaking is that observing all of these things in our next speech is relatively easy to do. As we start to understand where we are missing opportunities, we can start to make changes to how we deliver a speech. After making changes, we should no longer miss any opportunities – instead we’ll be making our own opportunities.

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

Question For You: Do you think that there is any way to make up for not starting a speech on a strong note?

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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

There is a great deal that goes into creating and delivering a speech. We do research on our topic, we do research on our audience, we practice, etc. One of the big questions that all too often we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about is why are we doing all of this? Sure, we understand the importance of public speaking and want to wow and amaze our audience and leave them thinking that the time that they spend listening to us was well spent. However, often times there’s another, bigger reason that we’re doing this – we’d like to be asked back to present again!

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