You Don't Have to Imagine Their Underwear - Public Speaking Tips
Death is often quoted as the second greatest fear for people.
While, public speaking has reigned at number one for quite some
time. Although I would pick a speech over death, there was
probably a time in my life when I would have seriously
considered the choice. In college, Communications was my minor,
but I never signed-up for Communications 101 because you had to
present in front of the class. I thought I was pretty slick for
avoiding the class. Little did I realize my leadership career
would place me in presentation situations on a regular basis.
Thankfully, I am now fully recovered from my Laliophobia (fear
of public speaking). I decided this fear was not going to limit
my career. To that end, I attended trainings and performed my
own research on presentation skills. Below are seven of the most
helpful tips I discovered for becoming a dynamic presenter.
Prepare: Know your audience and what you want them to know.
Understand the demographics of your audience (i.e. profession,
standards of dress, education level). Prepare your presentation
to meet their needs. People tend to remember only 3 or 4 points
from a presentation. What are the main points you want your
audience to walk away with? To help your audience remember those
points: * Tell them what you will tell them; * Tell them; and *
Then tell that what you told them.
A large part of my preparation actually focuses on eliminating
information not in support of my primary points (i.e. fluff).
Humor: Make fun of situations, yourself, but never the audience.
Jokes often help a presentation, but even one bad joke can hurt
a presentation beyond repair. Sometimes the less humor used, the
more impact it has on the presentation when it is delivered.
When using humor, keep in mind these rules: * This is a business
setting and the jokes must be clean and non-offensive; * Have
some connection between the joke and your topic; and * The only
safe bunt of a joke is the speaker; never alienate the audience
No Apologies: Never start a presentation with an apology. How
many times have you heard a presenter begin by saying 'I am
sorry I have a cold, or I am nervous? If you have a cold, the
sniffles do a fine job of making that apparent. Or, if there are
no outward signs, who really needs to know you don't feel well?
Many people use such statements as a way of requesting leniency
from the audience. Apologies like this announce to the audience,
'the presentation you are about to receive is less than you
deserve, but please don't blame me."
Attention: Get and keep their attention. Different people have
different learning styles. Some learn by simply listening, some
need to see it, and some learn best by experiencing it. If
appropriate, try to fit all aspects into the presentation.
Visual aides are a great way to keep your audience's attention.
No matter what your medium (projector, flip chart, power point),
it is important to remember a few rules about visual aides: *
Allow for some white space, don't fill the entire paper or slide
with details or pictures; * Use alternating colors for easier
reading; and * Visual aides support the presentation; do not use
them as the entire presentation - be prepared to add commentary
to the visual aides.
Move: Make the most of your movement. I appreciate the value of
high energy and enthusiasm. Many of my presentations incorporate
both strategies. At times however, too much high-energy and
movement can be distracting, actually taking away from your
message. Appropriate use of movement is the key. Simple hand
gestures may be all you need to make a point. On the other hand,
sometimes it may take running around the room. Your movement is
most effective when it helps the audience connect to your
Voice: Use your voice to make your point. Seems obvious, use
your voice when you are speaking. Well, here are some specific
tips on HOW to use it: * Speak up! - Nothing takes away from a
great presentation more than having audience members acting like
a commercial for Miracle Ear, 'What'd he say!?" Have someone
stand in the back of the room and signal if you need to be
louder. * No fillers - similar to foods, the best presentations
have no fillers. That is, no 'um's, uh's" to fill the space
between when you think of something and when you actually say
it. Silence between statements allows your audience to process
what you said. * Switch it up - to emphasize a point, speak
louder or even speak softer; the change in volume will get the
Respect: Show respect to the audience and they will show it to
you. Remember, the audience wants you to do well and the
smallest amount of respect will win over even the toughest
critics. Similar to one-on-one conversations, showing respect to
people can make all the difference in the communication. Here
are some ways to demonstrate respect for your audience: * Eye
contact - maintain eye contact with the audience. Slowly move
from person to person and occasionally hold the contact for a
few seconds. * Honesty - when you don't know the answer, admit
it, offer to find out, and get back to the person. * Save face -
if you must disagree with an audience member, do so in a manner
that allows the person to save face. * Self-correction - if an
audience member is not paying attention, encourage
self-correction, by walking closer to them as you speak. The
'distracter" will notice your proximity and stop the distraction.
There you have it, seven tips on becoming a dynamic presenter
and imagining the audience in their underwear was not among
them. Incorporate these tips as best you can, but do not allow
them to take away from who you are and what you say. Some of the
most successful speakers break several speaking rules. Take
these seven tips, mix them with your own unique style, and your
presentations are sure to be dynamic!