Public Speaking: Do’s, Don’t’s and Air Horns!
eGenie recently attended a Business Exhibition in Chelmsford; I personally had never been to one before and so was completely open as what to expect. Along with the decoratively outfitted, professionally looking stalls, smartly dressed individuals with their smiles aglow and business cards aplenty, there were seminars being hosted in the main house itself. “There you go Luke! Public speaking; perfect! Fancy it”? Well, when your boss says that, regardless of personal opinion, you’re going! But I gladly agreed and come 10am, I made my way from the marquee like Grand Pavillion and into the elaborate Hylands House.
Sitting in the lavish banqueting room of the country house and glancing around at the other seminar attendees, I was definitely the youngest and most inexperienced when it came to business. Under that basis, this seminar should certainly come in handy! A gentleman stepped out at the front of the room to one side of a Powerpoint presentation on a projection wall. My first impressions of Mr David Bell was that he was very well spoken, confident, smiley and in general seemed like a very approachable guy! It’s always nice when you can feel at ease when learning something new and David seemed made for it (Mr Bell being Founder and International Speaker from “The Speaker Expert”.)
After a brief introduction about the presentation, we were told to simply turn and introduce ourselves to the person behind us. Sure, why not? No problem. So as I turned and said my name and the nice lady behind myself said hers, a deafening blare sounded, making us all jump. “Five seconds up”! David said, brandishing his air horn. I didn’t need coffee anymore.
Soon enough, we got down to business; my pen madly scribbling notes onto a teeny tiny pad, but I never felt overwhelmed with information. We were given ten easy to abide by tips!
One: Remember The Three P's
- Planning: Always plan what you’re going to say!
- Preparation: Too much to remember? Create to do list!
- Practice: Simple! Practice
Two: You're The Expert!
You have to have self-belief and confidence in what you are saying; if you can’t convince yourself then there’s no way you can convince other people.
Three: Story Telling
People love a good story! It’s mentally visual, and creates a journey. They’re also useful for the speaker as it makes it easier to convey a point and remember how to, instead of using notes or statistics.
Four: No One Knows What You Are Going To Say
This is so true; whenever I have to speak, I often get flustered or mind trapped under the basis of leaving out something important. Well, that forgotten piece of information is non-existent to the listener, so try not to back track and keep it fluid.
Five: The Power Of... Pause
A supposed great secret of public speaking, instead of “umm” and “err”, simply take a breath and continue. “Umm” and “eer” are conversational fillers that allow the speaker time to think, but not saying anything and pausing instead can create a different effect on the listener in comparison. Who’d have thunk?
Six: Eye Contact
Eye contact. I personally, strongly believe this one! Eye contact creates a sense of trust and understanding and keeps an audience focused and listening. In a large group or seminar, try and look all around the room at everyone!
Seven: Short, Sweet & Wanting More
Don’t overrun your allotted time slot, keep it relevant and leaving it open allows the audience or listener to engage; asking questions or getting in contact in the future.
Eight: Death By PowerPoint
Use as little text on your PowerPoint as possible and in between slides, add a blank or enable the projector to go blank on demand to ensure that the audience’s attention remains focused on you and not your screen! Also, try images or visuals instead of text; just to keep the audience on their toes and not bored or losing focus.
Nine: Be Prepared For The Unexpected
It was at this point in Mr Bell’s presentation that he showed us a video of a German presenter collapsing on stage, mid show. The point being that naturally, the speaker didn’t expect to faint half way through, but alongside the obvious losing your memory stick or laptop not working scenarios, it’s important to expect the unexpected.
Ten: Have fun!
Regardless of whether it’s thousands or three people in the audience, it’s important to show enthusiasm and enjoy what it is you’re speaking about. That level of enthusiasm encourages an audience to remain engaged and are more likely to retain the information being conveyed.
Coming to the end of the presentation, Q&A’s were taken to which David answered thoroughly and attentively, with some great scenario specific tips. In all, he used all his own advice on us throughout and that was certainly an encouragement. I felt ready to go and talk to the world! With or without an air horn; never mind eye contact for listener engagement, I’ll just buy one of those! I’d have a great amount of fun with that… Anyway, I digress.
Some may think these tips useful; others may disagree with a few, but I found not only the content but the delivery of the presentation great and am in no doubt about using them myself in the future!