Everyone has a day where they need to face an audience. It could be during a sales meeting, regular meetings, trainings and so on. But not everyone can master the natural way of speaking as many do it so convincing.
For those who believe that are not good speakers here is a few tips that might help you improving your speeches:
1. Preparation & Practice:
One must fully know what they are talking about. You cannot face an audience knowing half of the subject. When you are not prepared there is always a question coming that will take you off by surprise. When you are confident with your content do practice how you will deploy it to the audience. In order to get this part right, learn who is the audience, what do they do, and so on. This way you can tweak your speech in a better way to make sure you engage the audience.
2. Opening speech:
Many people like to tell a story, a joke but not all audiences will get it. Be careful here, specially when you are not used to the audience. I refer to this part to those who usually present internationally. If you know the culture and know the jokes go ahead and use them. I usually like to create a story through my presentations and speeches. This way i assure some continuity and flow to what i would like to bring across. I recently used Willie Sutton in my opening training speech. It was a sales training and Willie Sutton was a 40 year experienced and convicted USA bank robber. Now, i believe i got your attention just saying that, right? Well, remember, i was training the sales team. So, when Willie Sutton was finally caught the police asked him why did he robbed banks. He replied: “- I rob banks because this is where the money is!”. After that i linked my whole sales training to the market and products i was training. This way i engaged the sales team showing them that their market was a money making market. There are many quotes and stories out there. Making associations to what you will deliver will help the audience to remember the content.
3. Engage your audience:
Ask questions, make them participate. I always start my trainings saying the following: “A dumb questions is a question not asked!” This helps breaking the ice a bit.
4. How to deal with people not paying attention or talking:
There is a trick that always worked for me. Give a pause. Yes, stop talking! When you ask people to stop talking this put you in a position that you are not a “cool guy”. If they are not paying attention is because your topic is not interesting for them or you are boring. Yes, sometimes, for some people you might be boring. Don’t worry… this is normal. So, when you pause for 2-3 seconds, some people might think you lost the train of thought. Now, you pause for 8-10 seconds. believe, even the most uninterested person will look at you. Why? Because they know you did it on purpose. Continue speaking when you notice you got the attention.Engage the audience with questions and try to adapt to what just happened. Asking some questions might lead you to a more interesting path for the audience and you can adjust your presentation.
5. Use flip-charts:
There is nothing more impressive then watching someone sketching a business case or anything on a white paper or board. When you do this you show the audience you really kn ow the subject and do not depend on slides or anything projected on the screen. You show confidence and knowledge. Some people cannot do this… therefore, practice!
6. The “Golden Rule” – GIVE A BREAK:
It is really important you give a break. Why? People get tired. Remember yourself in school… yeah, you did not pay attention the whole time, right? Specially in those long classes with more than 2 hours lecture… So, your audience will fell the same. I like to show a quick video every 30-45 minutes. Funny videos grab attention and break the “boriness”. If you feel that your audience is doing fine and engaged there is no reason to show a video but remember that our brains have a limit for holding information. With that in mind, try to remember that 45 minutes is great and 1h30 hours is the limit. After 45 minutes our brains start to forget the first minutes, imagine after almost 2 hours. If you want people to remember your messages try to get the audience relaxed. Giving a 5 minute bio break (that means toilet) will allow them to stretch their legs and get the blood flowing. This also helps their brains to reset. Believe me, the audience will never complain about your presentations, they will remember you and most of your messages by association. Funny videos related to the job is always good but you should be able to grab best commercials from the internet as well.
Remember, nobody is perfect and it will take time for you to feel confident presenting or giving a speech. Practicing will help you getting there. Get yourself in a room and talk your speech out loud to yourself. Listen how you speak and adjust the tone and the words accordingly.
Most important: Have fun! If you do not enjoy what you are doing most probably the audience will feel the same!