Tuesday, December 11, 2012

3 Tips about Public Speaking for non-Speakers

Does the thought of public speaking send quivers through your entire system?

I think I can offer some advice for non-speakers who have to speak in public.

Some people would rather get a cavity filled at the dentist than do any public speaking.
Someone I know has to give a presentation.  This person has a wealth of experience in her industry and is extremely intelligent, but she is uncomfortable speaking in front of people.

This is not uncommon, as many people fear public speaking even more than death.  This might be an exaggeration, but that’s not a certainty.  Many people really feel uncomfortable.

While I might not be a professional speaker, I give enough talks that I understand some things that helped me make the transition from being a nervous wreck about public speaking to where I now look forward to giving talks.

Here are some tips I shared with this intelligent and experienced but shy person (about public speaking, anyway).

Tip #1: The Most Important Point: Your Message Is More Important Than You

Remember WHY you are giving a talk in the first place.  Don't make the talk about you.  Place your focus on having your audience learn.  You have the experience that most of the audience members could only dream about having, and you're trying to help them.

If you focus on your audience and helping them learn, you will be less likely to even remember that you feel embarrassed.  You will be too focused on trying to help them learn.

(NOTE: There is always a chance that you have some idiot in the crowd to try discouraging you.  Realize that this person will never be impressed and return your focus on the people you are trying to help.)

Don't make it about you.  Make it about the info.  You're the one delivering it, but they're not there to see you.  They are there to learn the info you have to present.  Make THAT front-and-center.

Tip #2: Use Bullet Points on Your Presentation Slides

Write down the main points...just enough to remind you about the point you want your listeners to take.  Don't write down entire sentences.  You will become too reliant on what your screen says.  Most likely, you know the main points too well.  (Of course, it's perfectly OK to "cheat" and look at your screen to identify key things with a list of programs, ideas, websites, etc.)

Tip #3: Give Your Talk within a Structure

If you have a structure, you can lean on your "pattern" to remind you where you are within your talk.  This can be helpful when you have that momentary lapse, where you are in front of the room and forget what you were going to say…and even where you were within your talk.

We all have those moments while we present…in almost every talk.  Breaking down your talk into a structure helps you regain that train of thought, rather than trying to remember where you were within the ENTIRE presentation…THAT can be daunting.

While I use a different structure for each talk I give, here is an example of a structure I use when I am giving a demonstration style presentation:
  1. Show Example of "Finished" Product
    This lets them know what you're trying to accomplish, and they will take more from your lesson.
  2. Provide Benefit or Example of When to Use It
  3. Give Overview of Strategy to Accomplish It
  4. Provide Steps to Accomplish It
  5. Implement What You've Done
  6. Review Steps & Benefit (or Time to Use It)
  7. Ask for Questions
    i.e. about what you just did, other uses, etc.
  8. Provoke Response
    something like, "Raise your hand if you could see yourself using this one." or "Raise your hand if this is easier than you thought."
For me, each of these "cycles" usually might take between 15-25 minutes for each thing I will demonstrate.

This helps me cluster each thing I demonstrate, and I know I have a limited number of sub-steps for each thing I am demonstrating.

I know that it takes a while before it seems natural to talk in front of people.  These things will help remove the focus from you to the topic your presenting.  Who knows, these things might even distract you (from "remembering" to be embarrassed)!

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