CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – SEPTEMBER 2, 2020
Improve Your Public Speaking Skills (PT. 3)
11) Tell Stories & Make It Personal
Think your audience doesn’t care about personal stories? Let me put it this way. They probably care more about the story you just told than the pie chart on the screen behind you.
Your audience is more likely to remember and share the stories you tell than the stats and figures you pack your slides with. Make your presentation personal, and remind them that you’re human.
Check out a few top TED Talks to learn how to flex your storytelling muscles. TED Talks are driven by powerful storytelling — which is one of the reasons they’re so memorable. Stories also give your audience more context around your topic, heightening their ability to relate and find value in what you have to say. Basically, when in doubt, tell a story.
12) Channel Nervous Energy into Positive Energy
If you’re not excited about your presentation, why would your audience be? One way to channel excitement into your public speaking is to transform nervous energy into positive energy.
Simon Sinek has another great insight here. After watching reporters interview Olympic athletes, he noticed many of the athletes had similar responses when asked if they were nervous before competing. They answered, “No, I was excited.”
Sinek points out that they translated the body’s signals of anxiety or stress — sweaty palms, neck tension, fast heartbeat — as excitement. When Sinek’s onstage and notices these same signs, he says out loud to himself, “I’m not nervous, I’m excited!”
13) Speak Slowly & Pause Often
Speaking slowly is hard to do — especially when you’re giving a presentation. But not only does a slower speed make it easier for your audience to understand, it also makes you seem more composed and thoughtful. Your pacing should feel a little unnatural. Only then have you probably found the right cadence.
Another way to control the pace of your presentation is to routinely pause for between three and five seconds. This length of pause remains conversational, while allowing you to take a breath and refocus before moving forward. As a bonus, it’s just long enough to get people to look up from their smartphones to see why you’ve stopped.
14) Repeat Audience Questions
Whether you’re working a large room or a three-person meeting, try to repeat audience questions. In large settings, it gives everyone a chance to hear what was asked, keeping them engaged with and invested in your answer.
In smaller settings, repeating audience questions gives you an extra few moments to gather your thoughts. More importantly, it ensures that you’ve understood what the question is and are actively listening to the needs of your audience members.
15) Reinforce Key Points
Repeating key points at multiple times throughout your presentation helps your audience retain what’s most important.
A simple technique for doing so? Mention each key point three times. Introduce your main points in the agenda you share at the beginning, speak to each point clearly during your presentation, and close by reviewing and restating your main points.
16) Use Video & GIFs Sparingly
I know, I know — this one is unpopular. GIFs and video can be a great way to break up your presentation and re-engage a drifting audience. But they can also distract listeners from the important points you’re making.
When appropriate, throw in a GIF or video. But make sure it aids in your storytelling, instead of distracting from it. A truly engaging public speaker will be able to present impactfully without gimmicks.
If you’re tempted to add a third GIF to your presentation, take a harder look at the quality of content you’re preparing. Could you illustrate that point better with a thoughtful anecdote or past experience?
17) Always End Early & Say Thanks
Whether your audience gave you five minutes of their attention or an hour, end early and say, “Thank you.” Time is a precious commodity, and they chose to spend a significant portion of it with you.
Be respectful of that time and always end early — especially if you’re expecting a longer Q&A period. If people have questions, you want to make the most of every second before you lose them to the next session or meeting.
Public speaking is an art, and one that can take years to perfect. By following these tips for effective public speaking, you’ll start to notice benefits immediately.
Make It A Champion Day!