CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – AUGUST 19, 2020
Before You Even Get Up There
So much of what goes into public speaking happens way before you step up to the front of the room. Preparation and practice are key. Here’s what you can do in advance to make the actual speaking part as smooth as possible.
1. Know Your Audience
Or in a professional context, imagine you’re giving a presentation about the future of your company. That would look really different depending on whether you’re talking to a group of executives from your own organization versus a room full of college students who are interested in getting into the industry. For one, you might dive into the nitty gritty of last quarter’s performance and share your insights about what changes your organization needs to make to remain competitive. For the other, you’d probably zoom out a bit more, give an intro to your industry, and sketch out what your company does and where it’s going.
2. Plan and Structure Your Speech
So often the focus of advice about public speaking is about how you’re saying the words in front of an audience. Those things are unequivocally important (which is why we go into detail about them below!) but before you get there, you have to think about what you’re saying.
“You can have great diction and you can have great presentation skills, but if your words and structure are all over the place then people are not going to remember what you said,” says Lee, who credits Toastmasters with teaching her how to write a speech. “It is 100% about simplicity, because when you’re giving a speech in front of a live audience it’s so fleeting that if you have multiple points and if you go off on tangents and if you don’t stay on one simple path then people won’t remember what you were speaking about.”
Lee always picks one central point when she’s preparing a talk—whether she’ll be speaking for five minutes or 45. She’ll present her central theme, give supporting evidence and examples, and keep circling back to that main message. “So even if the audience forgets 99% of your speech, which they will, they will go home with that 1%,” she says.
In a workplace setting, this might translate into laying out a challenge your team is facing, zooming out to examine how other teams and companies are thinking about and handling similar issues, and end by proposing next steps for your team.
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