Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Improving Your Speaking Skills - part 2)

The day Deb learned not to stand behind a podium
In case you didn't notice, this is Part 2 in a series, so before you do anything else, scroll back to Part 1 to refresh your memory on the first five tips to improve your speaking skills.

Now we're ready to boogie on down the road ...

6. Focus on one theme per presentation. You may add subheadings or points, but don't muddy the water of your one central theme. Repeat it at the beginning, middle, and end of your speech.

7. Include humor to keep your audience awake. Mix it up. Boring is BAD. Use personal anecdotes, illustrations and props liberally. Sandwich seriousness between slices of humor so that the listeners will go away with plenty of meat but simultaneously feel entertained. 

8. Have the audience participate whenever possible. Use volunteers to demonstrate a point. Ask questions and respond to the answers. I like to throw in a funny sing-along song at the end of my women's presentations so that everyone leaves energized and smiling.

9. Prepare a list of what you need and give it to your host ahead of time: CD player, DVD player, lapel mic, small props table, large book table, small music stand for your notes (NOT a podium built for a 6'2" man - see example above), someone to run the AV equipment at your cue, etc. Also make sure you've discussed and agreed upon your fee ahead of time; payment after services rendered is customary.  

10. The close of your speech should be all about take-away. What truth did you want your audience to take home from your talk? In what way will this truth help their quality of life? Was self-application or follow-through expressed clearly? Come across as a friendly cheerleader eager for them to succeed, not as an unconcerned lecturer of dry knowledge. It's cliche but true: Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.

So what do you think, speakerly friends? Is there anything else you would add?