So you’ve spoken in public, it was nerve wracking and you were probably glad to get through it, but have you thought on how you could improve it? We’ve all sat there listening to someone not that interesting, sometimes it’s not enough just to speak the words, but to deliver them.So how do you add that bit of sparkle? Pizzaz? Something that elevates your speech from public speaking to presenting.
How you start a speech is often how you will be remembered. So wondering around trying to find the projector’s ‘on’ switch is never a good start. Let’s assume you’re prepared, and you’re ready to start. It’s time to find your attitude. We’re not talking dance moves here there’s no need to break out the Macarena, but find that confident you who knows the speech and wants to have a bit of fun with it. Stand up tall, don’t apologise for yourself, move around the room and deliver your words with vitality. It may be the tenth time you’ve given this talk, but make this the most exciting, passionate and articulate. Ever hear the words fake it until you make it? Live and breathe this motto when you’re presenting.
Dependent on subject matter of course but looking someone in the eye and giving them a quick smile, a simple nod of your head can take a speech from interesting to personal. Of course if you’ve already done your homework on the guests in your audience you can decide before the speech exactly who you want to try out your pearly whites on. Pitch it directly to some carefully chosen colleagues and your engagement levels go right up, regardless of the subject matter.
What are hands for when you deliver speeches? A show of hands is a show of confidence, use them to emphasise your key points, or to outline the bits that you’re passionate about with a pointed finger. Make your audience take notice when you jab on the table for topics that rile you or regain composure with a hand thrust in the pocket for a show of nonchalance when tackling those big questions. If you’re not confident with using movement of your hands then how about some visual aids? A pointer, some notes to give out or even an example of your topic to reference, it takes the eyes off you somewhat while retaining your confidence.
For the daredevils among you a quick joke placed somewhere amongst the content to strategically lighten the mood could really bring your speech up in to the stratosphere of presenting. We’re not talking knock knock jokes, it should be relevant, perhaps even news worthy and different every time. When you perform the same speeches you never know who is in the audience, and no-one ever laughs at a joke the second time around. Avoid politics or anything with an ‘ism’, sometimes you may think it plays to be wild, again if you don’t know who is in the audience it’s not worth the risk. Stick to playing it safe but something that will raise an eyebrow and get the conversation back on track.
Of course none of these tips can ever replace good preparation. Whether that’s repetition of the script so you’re word perfect or knowledge of the audience, you are the subject matter expert in the room. At the end of the day confidence is key, it’s what people are drawn too. So whether you walk around the room, use PowerPoint templates, interact one-on-one with your audience etc, it’s your own personal character that will make the speech come alive. So don’t place yourself too far out of comfort zone, if you’re too busy worrying about making eye contact or cracking a joke you’ll lose the very things that make you, you. And if you really want to make your speech dynamic, that’s what needs to shine through.