Top Ten Speaking Tips | Revisited And Revised

For those who present and deliver talks often.

Seven years ago I wrote a My Top Ten Speaking Tips piece on my old company blog and thought with the impending Speaking With Purpose conference, it would provide a good time to revisit and revise.

Was very surprised how little my ideas and tactics have changed, spruced them up a little though and here they are:

    1. Finish the presentation the night before—it stays fresher in your brain than if you completed it a few weeks previous. Gives you time to add in new industry and sector developments plus it also offers the opportunity to add in references from earlier talks (if it’s more than a one day event). Most importantly though it doesn’t give you a chance to practice (GASP)…

    2. Don’t practice—a great talk is like a conversation (and no conversation goes the way you planned, no matter how many times you practice it in your head). Sure, run through it once or twice to check the timings plus transitions etc but this is more an exercise of knowing what you want to convey rather than rehearsing exactly what to say verbatim. Remember, you can practise your talk but you can never practise speaking in front of a room of strangers / your colleagues / your board etc.

    3. Don’t do lecterns—it forms a physical barrier between you and your audience. Less is definitely more in this instance and before you say, “where do I put my script?”…

    4. Never use a script—if you know your stuff you don’t need it written down. This method means: head down, losing intonation / connection with your audience / professionalism. We don’t talk the same way we write and it just doesn’t work. If you’re an organiser of any events / conferences, ban podiums and scripts. It will scare a lot away but I guarantee you’ll be left with fantastic speakers who simply know their stuff.

    5. Let your client dictate the topic not the content—I once had a very needy client who heavily dictated the content of a presentation to the point of even signing it off weeks before. It’s the ONLY time the organisers didn’t think I delivered (even though three quarters of the audience thought I was good/very good). Coincidence maybe, but experience tells me otherwise.

    6. Move—the best speakers are passionate and passion means movement. Move around the stage / floor. Move your arms, your face, your eyebrows. Communicate with your body not just your words / slides.

    7. Look at your audience—don’t pick a spot at the back of the room / hall and drift off. Sometimes this is hard if you’re speaking on a lit stage but you can still make people out. After a while you can have some fun with this: I like to pick out those yet to be convinced (you’ll spot them through body language—the ones with their arms crossed and sitting back in their seat—once you have them coming forward and sitting on the edge of their chairs and nodding their heads you know you’re onto a winner).

    8. Bullets kill people attention—people can read faster in their heads than you can read it out loud. Break each point up into a slide and use one word titles for each to direct your talk. They act as cues for the topics or a point I want to convey. The figurative underline comes from the images/video plus the story weaved around it.

    9. Fool your nerves—those damn butterflies can turn into courage-eating moths which can eat you from the inside out. Trick them. The emotional and physiological response to fear is exactly the same as when you’re excited. Tell yourself it’s not nerves but positive anticipation and after a while you will create an ingrained learned response.

    10. Enjoy it—if you don’t have fun speaking then don’t do it. There are other ways to promote yourself or spread your message.

Hope the above helps…

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    Gil

    Fabulous summary. These fundamental things about communicating with our own kind (people!) endure because they are rock solid and deeply rooted in our wiring. Worth the occasional reminder. Thanks DK.

  • Reply

    DK

    Many thanks Gil – was fun to dust off the advice and see it has retained its usefulness all these years later :-)

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