“Be silent, or say something better than silence.” ~ Pythagoras
Before you step before an audience to deliver a speech or a business presentation, you need to ask yourself one crucial question: Do you believe in your heart that you have at least one thing to say that will be meaningful to at least one person in your audience? While it’s not a high hurdle to cross, it can determine success or failure for you.
If your answer is “yes” and you believe it in your heart, you now have a reason to deliver your speech. This belief can help to build confidence in you and allow you to perform at your very best.
But if your answer is “no,” then you have two choices: (1) rework your speech until you do believe it is worthwhile or (2) stay home. It’s that simple. To be an effective public speaker, you need to believe in your message.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you are involved in public speaking. Imagine you are in the midst of a presentation and you suddenly develop a case of dry mouth that causes you to cough. It can happen to anybody at any time. If you’re prepared with a small bottle of water nearby, you can quickly recover and move on with your speech. No big deal. But without water, a small case of dry mouth can turn into a big distraction and maybe even ruin your speech. You have to stop. Someone now has to fetch you water while the audience waits restlessly. A five-minute wait is an eternity when an audience is waiting.
You don’t need a big bottle of water to save the day. You usually only need a quick sip to recover. I like the little 6 ounce bottles that I can easily place on a podium without them sticking out too much. The water should be room temperature. Cold water can cause your throat to tighten up. Of course, hot tea works well for your throat too, but hot tea is not easy to carry around with you like a small bottle of water.
I talk a lot so I also carry a supply of throat drops with me to soothe my often overworked throat. I don’t recommend using cough drops that contain menthol. Also, because I use a lot of throat drops (and because I’m a Type 2 diabetic), I prefer the sugar-free drops.
These small items can make a big difference in a speech or business presentation. So pack a small bottle of water and maybe a couple of throat drops in your briefcase. It just may help you to pull off a perfect public speaking presentation.
Had a great time presenting my Speak Up and Stand Out public speaking workshop this morning. We’ll be offering another session July 22 and presenting another in conjunction with the Phoenix Business Journal on July 27. Check out our Events page for details.
Our July 8 Speak Up and Stand Out workshop is full and we are no longer taking reservations but we still have spots left in the July 22 public speaking workshop. The workshops are free but you must reserve a spot. To ensure personal attention, the workshops are limited to 10 participants.
Start your journey to public speaking success by signing up for our July 2 session today!
I attended a wedding awhile back and snapped this photo of the groomsmen. The wedding was deep in the heart of Texas so, of course, it was held in a barn and the groomsmen were wearing matching western shirts, blue jeans, and cowboy boots. It was a fabulous wedding, the people were sure ’nuff friendly and I loved every minute of my visit to the Lone Star State.
The groomsmen stood like guys stand when they become conscious of their bodies and don’t know what to do with their hands. It’s a common problem I see with my public speaking clients every day. Each groomsman represented one of the ways I teach speakers not to stand when making a speech or business presentation — the military at ease position, the hands in the pockets, the fig leaf, and the hands the belt loop. The groomsmen were standing respectfully and they were just fine for the wedding ceremony but the problem with all these positions when you are speaking is that they inhibit your ability to gesture, which is key to being an effective presenter.
What Should You Do?
So, what should you do? How should you stand when speaking? And what the heck should you do with your hands?
What you should do is be yourself — yourself when you’re not nervous or overly self-conscience of your body. I’m going to bet that you don’t stand in any of these unnatural positions when you’re talking to your friends in the parking lot or at the water cooler. And, I’ll bet that you’re not at all concerned about what to do with your hands either.
Your Public Speaking Goal
The goal is this: to gesture naturally as you talk, the way you do when you’re telling a story or a good joke to your friends. So how do you get there? After all, you are nervous! Start by putting your hands at your sides. Then, and this is key, relax your arms from the shoulders down. Once your arms are under control, the nervous energy will travel to your legs and feet so your next step is to plant your feet solidly on the ground. Imagine that your feet are nailed to the floor. With your arms relaxed and your feet planted solidly. You’re now ready to begin speaking.
It will feel awkward at first. Most things do when you start. Remember the first time you shot a layup, tried to rollerskate, swung a golf club or went bowling? It was awkward, right? But through practice, it became second nature. The good news with gesturing is, you already know how to do it. You just need to relax. Following the steps outlined here, you gradually will forget about your body and begin to gesture naturally. I’ve seen some folks stand awkward with their hands at their sides for 45 seconds before they finally forget about their stance and began to gesture naturally. But eventually, they did. And the next time it only took 20 seconds, and the next time 10 seconds, and finally, after enough practice, they just did it from the get-go. They became themselves.
All Hat and No Cattle?
Public speaking isn’t about making you into someone you’re not — or as they say in Texas, someone who is all hat and no cattle. Effective public speaking is about making you more comfortable being yourself. Trust me, I wouldn’t steer you wrong. So go ahead, stand up straight, relax those arms, plant those feet. And before you know it, you will be gesturing as natural and as wide as the horns on a Texas Longhorn.
The advertisement for our Speak Up and Stand Out public speaking workshop appeared in today’s Phoenix Business Journal. You can register for the workshop here. We’ll cover a variety of public speaking and business presentation skills. Be sure to use this promo code to get a 25% discount: PHBB. Hope to see you there!
Preparation is key to success in public speaking events. Here are five tips from an AVT perspective that should help make your presentations run more smoothly.
(1) Presentations via Laptop: If you are using PowerPoint or KeyNote in your presentation and using a laptop be sure to bring your own power supply. For Mac users: also bring your “dongle” adapter. Do not assume that the venue will have the proper hook-up/AV output adapter from your i-thingy to their more-than-likely-near-obsolete projector. iPads/iPhones can ONLY link to projectors that are Bluetooth/WiFi enabled.
(2) Presentations via Thumb Drive: If you are not bringing your own Laptop/iBook and have saved the presentation on a thumb drive: Make sure to save your presentation appropriately. For PC and PowerPoint, save as a “package for CD” to make sure all the fonts, pictures, and videos were included in the file. If you just “SAVE” to thumb drive it might not transfer all the links and you’ll end up with slides that are jibberish (font not found) or the notorious Red X which means the program can’t find the file. For Mac users, be aware that Keynote is not backward compatible. With all the bells and whistles of graphics, it is difficult to easily save Keynote onto a thumb drive and transfer file.
(3) Presentations Involving Music and Video: If your presentation entails various changes in programming (e.g. going from microphone to Mp3 music or DVD/Mpeg video). Please have an “in-time” run-through of your presentation, if time permits. It will assure that your AVT knows what is supposed to happen when, and to know when to bring up which audio fader at what time.
(4) A Proper Soundcheck: Not all microphones and sound systems are created equal. Arrive early for a “sound check” and insist on about 10-15 mins to make sure the technician can equalize the system to your vocal range. Do a portion of your presentation that reflects the possible range of your voice. A “check, check, 1,2,3, How’s That?” does not qualify. When in doubt ask for a Shure SM58 wired microphone. Wireless microphones are amazing. The good ones cost money. You’ll get what you pay for if you don’t choose a good system. If you do choose to use a wireless, make sure that the AVT knows if other frequencies are also being used in close proximity.
(5) Arrive Early: Always arrive at least an hour before the audience is allowed in the venue if your presentation has any one of the following: audio, projection/video, lighting changes. Arriving early will give you time to set everything up properly and time to test it. Remember: Do not expect a flawless presentation if there is poor planning on your part.
The best way to have a perfect public speaking presentation is to prepare properly and work with your AVT partner.
About Our Guest Blogger:Newton Koshi is a Certified Technical Specialist (CTS) and is the former Director of Audio Visual Services for Projection Presentation Technology at The Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.
It takes a team effort to pull off large public speaking efforts. There are people who set up the stage, audio/visual people, the people who adjust the lighting and the room temperature, and so on. They are all part of your team and will be vital to a successful presentation. They can help you to get everything just right. Be sure to treat them like the valued business partners that they are.
It’s not only a wise move, it’s the right thing to do.
Photo of Yvette Koebke, Director of Sales and Marketing, Residence Inn/Courtyard Phoenix Downtown
When you speak confidently without notes, you can command the attention of your audience. How do you speak without notes? First, talk about what you know about. Then, create an outline. And finally, and this is the real key, memorize your outline, not a script.
Your outline should contain an introduction, a body (your key points) and a conclusion. Practice delivering your introduction, the key points and your conclusion without a script. It may not come out exactly the same way every time, and that’s OK. If you forget a small point, you will be the only person in the room who knows that.
Authenticity is crucial in today’s public speaking. We’ve become very skeptical of slick presentations and fast talkers. Having a few flubs in an unscripted presentation is far more effective than reading a perfect statement.
“90% of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” ~ Somers White
The No. 1 predictor of how well your speech or business presentation goes will be how well you prepare for it. In public speaking, there is no substitute for preparation.
Early in the preparation process, I like to close my eyes and try to imagine every little detail about the event. Where will I be before coming to the stage? What does the stage look like? Is there a podium? Who will introduce me? What will the audience be wearing? Where will they be sitting? What’s the lighting like? Will I have a microphone? Where will my laptop be? Is there a place to put my water? And so on, and so on.
It may sound a little odd, and maybe others do it differently, but for me, imagining every detail helps me to uncover things I’ve overlooked that I can add to my checklist and resolve ahead of time. It helps me feel more comfortable about the whole event and how it will unfold. It is like doing a dress rehearsal in your head!
Here are links to related posts that have tons of tips to help you prepare: