One of the most effective ways to “get the word out” about your service, profession, or product is through the use of public speaking. Public Speaking is a tool, and used appropriately may produce some very rewarding results.
Many clients I work with that have done public speaking themselves in the past come forth with the common denominator “it got little to no results”.
When queried further about this subject it became evident that the flaw was their misapplication of some basic / unknown standard actions; I also noted most erred in usually blaming the audience!
There exists a technology of how to do public speaking; good public speaking. Some people are fortunate to have this as an inherent ability, but please know that it is also a talent and skill that can be learned and mastered by anyone with the desire.
Here are my best tips:
1) Ensure you have a topic that THAT SPECIFIC AUDIENCE wants to hear and know about. It must have something to do with them, pertain to what they do, or discuss a needed improvement.
Find out from your prospective audience. Survey those that may attend for their best topic of interest prior to your public speaking appearance.
2) Define the exact purpose of your talk and inform the audience of this stated purpose as the first item to address. This will orient them as to why you are there and what you intend to accomplish. If you skip this step they’ll usually draw their own conclusions on why you’re there which are generally fairly inaccurate and almost never follow your message. That generates confused ideas; obviously not the result you’re going for.
3) Design your speech with the data as above in #1 & #2.
4) PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. This is done on a gradual basis initially to yourself; then to a mirror; then to one person you know; then to a few; and then to a larger “practice group”.
Get the agreement of those you are practicing to that there should be NO invalidation of your presentation, but you simply want to know what they think might improve your speech.
Lectures – I have experienced lectures leaving me to wonder if the speaker knew there was an audience there! I have seen an audience actually sleeping, dopey and disinterested only to later hear the speaker criticize the audience!! Wow, that speaker hadn’t a clue, and what arrogance to not know his/her own purpose for the lecture and attain the desired result. The speaker himself creates interest with the audience he is speaking to.
Engagement – The best speakers I have ever seen engage the audience; they are not boredly reading off “stuff”. Their main purpose is to get their message across and they check often to ensure this.
How would they know if this is occurring without consulting or engaging their audience throughout the presentation? Are they really looking to the audience adjudicating whether or not to “change gears” at points where they’re not getting the intended participation? A true professional does this. All one needs to do is LOOK at the audience. Are they bright? Are they awake? Do they look interested?
I have gone so far as to ask, hey, is this boring to anyone? Are you getting it so far? Please tell me; then I change what I am doing, on the spot as needed.
Something I always consider: Was a sufficient amount of homework done on the audience’s needs and interests before creating my talk? If I need to “change gears”, then the answer probably is “NO”.
5) End your presentation properly ensuring it was worth your time. Honestly, these are an investment of one’s time to pull off good results. Some clients end the speech, pass out some business cards, and try to speak to individuals afterward, or maybe give a hand-out here and there. They return to work only to encounter the loss that “no one called me.” Come on; let’s get a bit more professional about this.
Here’s a way to end your speech AND garner future prospects:
a) BEFORE you end your speech, pass out a survey (attached) and make absolutely positive you have enough pens or pencils and helpers to get them in the hands of all participants!
b) Inform your audience that “You still have something additional to cover with them, but before doing so you’d like to get some important feedback from them and pass out a brief survey; that you would appreciate their candor and input.” Have your helpers pass these out with a pen to each participant WHILE you are saying this.
c) Have these surveys gathered and thank the audience for their valuable input.
d) Cover the last bit of additional information and THEN end your speech.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not make the mistake of looking like you’re about to end before you get the surveys out as your audience will start to leave. Take good control of the audience near the end of your presentation; get your surveys done, complete the relay of information to the group, and then end your speech.
Examples of survey questions
¨ You may change these however you like, or add some, but do not make it long. ¨ You may change the questions, but please do not change the concepts.
PRESENTATION SURVEY (or QUALITY ASSURANCE SURVEY, etc.)
Thank you for attending today’s presentation on (topic / speech title), and I sincerely hope this was of benefit to you. I am always seeking to improve my presentations and would greatly appreciate your input on the following: (leave more space for their answers.)
NAME: __________________________________________ COMPANY: _______________________________________
TITLE / POSITION:__________________________________
PHONE:__________________________________________ EMAIL: __________________________________________
1) What one thing will benefit you most from today’s presentation?
2) If I were to make an improvement in my presentation, what might that be?
3) If there was something you wanted more information on, what would be the best method of getting this information to you?
Email _____ Phone_____ Best time to call: ______________________
4) Was there anything you wanted to know about which was not covered here? If so, what would that be?
5) If you feel it is appropriate to have a (one-on-one interview, consult or whatever works best for you), what would be the best method to reach you?
Email _____ Phone_____ Best time to call: ______________________
6) Anything else you’d like me to know?
Again, I thank you for attending,
(Speaker’s name, title, etc.)
Now you have something useful and informative to follow up on!
In summary, public speaking can be a total blast and I happen to love it! I know some like it as much as a root canal, but it is something you can learn and master with practice. One need not be too worried about what others might think about you. Have fun with it!
Craig Ferreira, CEO Survival Strategies, Inc.