Monday, December 2, 2019
How to Not Suck as a Speaker 15 Ideas
How to Not Suck as a Speaker 15 Ideas When I was in eighth grade, I gave the commencement speech atmy middle school graduation. I practiced hard, wrote and rewrote, selected my outfit, anddelivered a powerhouse speech. Everyone from the teaczu sichs to my peers thought Id surely pursue some sort of career in public speaking.As the years wore on, however, I gravitated more toward writing.It started with creative writing, then turned to journalism, and finally becameabsatzwirtschaft and advertising. Banging out 1000 words on any given topic? That I can do. Put a mic in my hand or on my lapel, and I get sweaty, tongue-tied, and more than a little envious of my eighth-grade self.I have been trying to understand public speaking for a long time now. Its harder than I thought it would be when I first decided I wanted to speak on employer branding, recruitment marketing, andmarketing in general.Whats the deal? If Iknow the stuff, why cant I say the stuff in a compelling way?I dont really know the answer to that question, butI am getting better Here are the things I have done to see a little improvement inmy public speaking1. Write It OutI always write out the entire speech beforehand. A presentation can always go awry. If you write it out ahead of time, you have less to worry about when technical difficulties arise.2. Start With a StoryI dont know why this was such a blinding revelation for me. I have been starting stories for years now. I must have 27 first chapters of never-to-be-finished novels.3. Give Your Team (or Yourself) Design DirectionJust because Powerpoints can go sideways doesnt mean you should ignore great design. I go through my speech with design ideas for the team and highlight phrases I want spelled out on the slides. This accomplishes two things. First, it ensures I am elend using every stinking word on the slides, as bad speakers are prone to doing. Second, it allows me to envision myself up on the stage with the vis ual behind me.4. Listen to YourselfSome people practice with notes. That never works for me. If I miss a word, it jacks up my whole flow. Instead, I record myself and listen to it over and over until I am sick of my own voice. This helps me with both speech memorization and cadence.5. Watch YourselfI swear on this green earth there is nothing more humbling than watching yourselfgive a speech. I have thousands of minutes of video on my phone that show me attempting not to sound and look like a moron. Most of the time, I record these videos right before I go on, which means Im frantically putting on eyeliner and curling my hair in many of them.6. SnapAre you an umm-er? Place arubber band around your wrist and snap yourself every time you utter that dreaded filler sound. Your wrist will be red, but your presentation will be awesome.7. Dont Try to Be Something Youre NotWhen giving a speech, I really want to stay behind the podium for many reasons. I love reading notes, and podiums hide notes really well. I am pretty clumsy and love high heels, so stages are dangerous places for me. However, I cannot for the life of me stay still during anything, andbeing on stage is no exception.8. Find a Buddy or TwoI always find the people I am gonna creep out for the hour right up front. It can be hard to talk to hundreds or thousands of people, but its pretty easy to talk to four or five. When my mind has blanked, or Im getting a little nervous, or Im speaking too quickly, I will look at one of my buddies tocollect myself. They can be anyone in the audience you dont have to know them.9. Have a Joke to TellThis is so important. Trust that the lights will go out, the presentation willfail to load, your mic will cut out, and the next speakerwill be late. If you know a couple of great jokes, you can work the crowd until things settle down.10. Shock and AweThat may be an exaggeration, but if you know a startling fact or an interesting anecdote, or you have space in your presentatio n to call someone in the audience out,use it.This instantly wakes people up and gets them into the groove no easy feat in our smartphone-addicted age.I have a presentation where I say, And this is where peoples eyes usually glaze over ARE YOUR EYES GLAZING OVER? Wakes them up every time.11. Sounds of SilenceDont be afraid ofnot talking. Its okay to pause for effect, for a drink of water, to let a thought sink in, to let people take pictures of a slide, etc.12. KISSThat is, Keep it simple, stupid. I know this is standard advice, but it took me forever to understand that my role on the stage is not to teach people everything Iknow its to inspire them to learn more and give them a few tools to point them in the right direction. If every presentation could distill 20 years of knowledge into 45 minutes, college would not be a thing.13. Practice in Front of Young PeopleThe young will eat you alive. High school and college studentscan be rude theyll refuse to make eye contact and ask que stions you might not have the answers to. They will also laugh when you trip or swear accidentally, which does lighten the mood.14. Establish Who You AreYou have a reason to be speaking at this time, at this place, and on this subject. What is that reason?What do you want the crowdto know about you as a person? Its easy to dismiss a speaker, but much harder to dismiss a mother of three who dropped out of high school and runs a multimillion dollar business.15. Take It Personally, But Not Too PersonallyI get feedback after nearly every event I do. Some of it is awful. In fact, a lot of it is awful. I know I was exceptionally bad when my friends compliment me too much. I need to take comments that come up time and again to heart. Those criticisms point to real failings that transcend subject and geography, meaning the problem is yours truly. However, when people criticize my hair, clothes, tattoos, or piercings, I dont care. You shouldnt either. This article originally appeared on the Red Branch Media blog.Maren Hogan is founder and CEO of Red Branch Media. You can read more of her work on Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and her blog, Marenated.