Public Speaking - 7 Tips for Making Your Message Count

It’s only the middle of January in this new year and already I have heard 5 presentations and a webinar.  Maybe 2018 is going to be the year of the “speaker”.  If that’s the case, let’s hope some folks are fine-tuning their speaking skills as a goal for this up-coming year.  Most of what I’ve already heard was quite well done; however, for many of us, public speaking doesn’t come easily.

According to Mark Twain – “It takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech”.  Does that imply that an impromptu speech can take even longer?  Well, no, not necessarily.  Part of the preparation for an impromptu speech is noodling the information, the approach, and structure around in your mind long before you put notes on paper.  And, of course, some of us don’t need to use notes at all depending on our level of subject knowledge.

The old adage about giving a good speech is: 

(1) tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em,

(2) tell ‘em, and

(3) tell ‘em what you told ‘em. 

That format has proven successful for most over the course of time.

So….let me offer 7 tips that are useful in terms of delivering a successful presentation, whether impromptu or not. 

1.       Begin your presentation with an opening segment that catches the audience’s attention

2.       Go with the rule of 3 – people best remember things if they are presented in groups of three.  Think Three Stooges, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, Beginning, Middle, and End

3.       Consider what your audience may want to know about the topic and don’t feel you have to tell them everything.  There are those wonderful speakers among us that know you should always leave the audience wanting more.  Including too many details has the potential to make you seem dull. 

4.       Insert a short anecdote or personal story that lets the audience know you are speaking from some level of experience.  Help your audience see a picture in their mind.

5.       Your presentation of self is extremely important.  That means you dress for the occasion, use appropriate movement and gestures, and make eye contact with folks in your audience.

6.       Remember to breath – before and during your presentation.  Deep breathing before your presentation will lower your anxiety – steady breathing during your presentation will help you portray confidence and pace your speech.

7.       If you plan to use visual aids, keep them simple, relevant, and easy to read.  Audiences don’t want to be read to and if there is too much information on a slide, it confuses the audience. 

Try out these tips for your next presentation and see if they make a difference!