28
Jan
08

Public Speaking: Da Rulz

There are but a few people who actually enjoy public speaking. An even smaller group of people is actually good at it. And by good, I mean a speaker that is so engaging that a transfer of knowledge takes place and the applause afterwards is more than perfunctory. I did the the public speaking thing for many years before I started my new “careers”. I can honestly say that it was the only part of the job that I truly enjoyed and I think I excelled at. Here’s my list of tips that may provide some help if you find yourself being the focus of many people who would rather be somewhere else.

  • Avoid being the last speaker (of the day, of the conference, before lunch, etc.). You may be the best speaker in the world, but nobody will be truly effective if they are the only thing between the audience and a cocktail, lunch, the flight home, etc.
  • Wear clean shoes. As in freshly polished and well-maintained. Speakers are usually speaking from a position above the audience. The audience tends to look down. Your shoes should look like you give a damn.
  • Gents – Wear a slightly loud, fashion forward tie. While the conservative power burgundy or presidential blue tie is a safe bet, you want to be memorable.
  • You’re probably going to be a little nervous. So what. Deal with it. Especially by preparing for excessive perspiration.
  • Engage the audience within the first two minutes. This can be done with a self-deprecating joke (be careful), a group exercise (not the jumping jacks thing), or even something as simple as a silly picture. You are trying to relax them and put them in the mind-set that your speech ain’t gonna be so bad.
  • Do not read your PowerPoint slides. Nobodys like to be read to. Your images are supposed to be foundational elements for your presentation, not the entire presentation.
  • Engage a few people in the crowd during the presentation. Keep coming back to them and actually interact.
  • Know your stuff. Very few people are good at ad-libbing an entire presentation. You should know your stuff inside and out. Know it to the point that when the laptop craps out (and it will), it doesn’t matter.
  • Don’t worry about the fact there will be asses whose phones go off and others who just get up and leave. They will be noticed by the audience for what they are.
  • Do not picture the audience in their underwear. Let’s face it, there will probably be some very attractive folks in attendance and the last thing that *you* want to do is get distracted with a little fantasy. Just relax. You want to share something that you know with these folks. But do look at them instead of your notes. Just don’t linger on the hottie in the third row.
  • Make sure that folks leave with something new. Some people refer to this as the “A-ha!” moment. If your audience leaves with just one new thing that is important to them, you are a success. Keep in mind that this thing could be different parts of your presentation for different folks.
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