CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – NOVEMBER 9, 2020
Advice from the experts on how to make any presentation sing
Psychologists and graduate students are often called upon to speak to an audience, whether to give a conference presentation, deliver a lecture to a class, lead a meeting or give a talk in the community. But public speaking is a skill that comes more naturally to some than to others, and there are some common pitfalls to avoid, such as seeming disorganized or looking down at notes rather than at your audience.
Regardless of how practiced you may be at public speaking, there are some very effective strategies to use to deliver engaging talks. The next time you have a speaking engagement, try these tips to deliver your message like a TED Talk presenter:
- Know your audience.
Keep in mind whom you are going to be addressing when you craft your presentation, says Robert Sternberg, PhD, a former APA president who is a professor of human development at Cornell University. Is the audience going to be mainly fellow psychologists, health professionals, other professional groups, students or consumers? What do they want and need to hear? Knowing whom you are speaking to will help you tailor the talk and will help keep the audience engaged.
- Keep it simple, especially if you’re going to give a talk to a general audience.
“People have a tendency to give presentations the audience doesn’t understand,” says Barry Schwartz, PhD, a psychology professor emeritus at Swarthmore College and a visiting professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He suggests giving a talk that makes people feel like they’re smart and like they want to learn more about the topic. “The curse of knowledge is that once you know something, you forget what it was like when you didn’t know it,” he says. “I imagine that I’m going to present to my grandmother, who had a fifth-grade education.”
- Emphasize connection over content.
To best engage listeners, build your speech from an emotional place rather than from the content, says Kristi Hedges, leadership coach and author of the 2011 book “The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others.” Rattling off facts and figures and talking at the audience isn’t effective if they aren’t interested in what you are saying. “Be clear about what you want the audience to walk away with when they leave and use that intent as a structure to frame your talk,” says Hedges. Your passion for a topic can draw people in; talking without any enthusiasm for the topic can deplete energy in the room and eclipse your message. “Talk to persuade, not just to inform,” adds Sternberg.
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