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Article List >

9 Secrets Of Public Speaking

January 30, 2013, 18:56:23
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Rushing to complete all minor course requirements during my last and 6th year of University studies for my degree in Architecture, I found myself one Spring morning in a packed, sweaty classroom full of students eager to be elsewhere. Suddenly, a small elderly lady wearing a red rubber clown nose slammed the door, walked to the front of the classroom and in a clear voice with an Irish accent delivered the following anecdote:

 

A young boy who has gone to his uncle’s farm for the summer wakes early the first day and is ordered to go out to the barn and hitch up the mule. A half hour later his uncle enters the barn to see his nephew all sweaty and dirty and out of breath. The uncle asks, "What's going on? Why haven't you even gotten the mule out of its stall?" When the boy explains that he has tried and tried but cannot get the mule budge, his uncle picks up a log, whacks the mule over the head, and then gently leads the mule outside the barn as he explains to his nephew, “You see, laddie? First, you've got to get the mule's attention!”

 

The elderly prfessor smiled as she ended her story and tapped her finger on the red rubber nos, removed it, placed on her desk amid a few chuckles from the now fully attentive group of students for her class in Speech 101.

 

30 years later my recent work with scientists and engineers at Copenhagen University, private research centers and industry as an info-graphics consultant has prompted me to write this article and impart her wisdom to the fast-paced digital audiences I now face who all seem to suffer from Power Point Fatigue. Below are 9 basic things you can do to become a more assertive and influential public speaker

 

1. GET THEIR ATTENTION – Begin your talk by saying or doing something that the audience cannot ignore. Arrive on a bicycle, use an umbrella, wear or drop something and laugh at it. A red clown nose works well!

 

2. KEEP THEIR ATTENTION – praise their intelligence – thank them for their attention and their time. Ask them simple questions or state simple human truths (subject relevant) that they all can relate to. A person who is allowed to speak, is a person who is paying attention to what's being said.

 

3. WIN THE BATTLE BEFORE YOU BEGIN – know what you wish to accomplish with the communication, what result you want – know how your audience will respond and what they will do – Your audience is an enemy because you must do battle with their mental inertia: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” - Sun Tzu (The Art Of War)

 

4. TELL THEM THREE TIMES – tell them what you are going to tell them – then tell them – then tell them what you told them. This sounds stupid but if done with care it is a very effective way to insure that your audience gets the message. You tell them what is coming so they are prepared and with open minds. Then you deliver your talk. At the end, you wrap it up by summarizing the journey in just a few words which will stick with them and make it easier to remember the details.

 

5. TIMING IS EVERYTHING - as with comedy and life itself, the timing in use of visuals or intriduction of a new thought is as important as the subject itself. Do not show or say something until they are ready to see or hear it. Present a new idea or concept by asking a question like, "And what do you think happened next?..." or "I bet you know what that means don't you?..." Wait a couple of beats before looking into their eyes and then giving the answer or flashing the slide on the screen. This makes them want to test themselves and to answer before they see.

 

6. BUILD YOUR CASE BRICK BY BRICK – visual and written arguments should not always be presented as a finished product – you must explain each element and allow your audience to see and know each part before you show how they fit or what they look like used in a “whole” – like LEGO bricks versus a finished toy. Do not go on before you are sure that they are with you. Do not assume that your audience has the knowledge needed for your concept to be understood.

 

7. BE CONSISTENT – any visual metaphors used must be connected and related. Remember that every story you tell builds a different visual image in each person’s mind, and that every image you show will be seen by each in a slightly different way. Too many visual stories will confuse the eye and more than one metaphor used to explain a process or idea will blind them to the idea you are trying to explain. Remember also that the visual mind works 10 times faster than the verbal mind and lies in different parts of the brain. USE HUMOR – but only 1-2 times in the course of the talk – be sure it is on subject, informative, and in good taste. Know that if you have timed your talk well that you can induce humor by simply presenting the next drawing or the next step in your talk if you use the right words. Humor humanizes you presentation and says you care for your audience.

 

8. OMMUNICATE WITH THEM NOT AT THEM – do not be pedantic – let them know you are searching and questioning and human, and that you very much want them to join you in this quest for new knowledge – share something personal.

 

9. END WHERE YOU BEGAN - the very best talks are those that come full circle and return to the opening. This allows you to point out how far you have all come together and the journey you have taken together. Leave them with a way of smiling at you or themselves. Remembering the person who delivers the new idea is a way of validating a concept and implanting it in their minds with a face and an an experience of having been with you.

 

Dos and Don'ts in Public Speaking

Dos

● Be passionate about your subject

● Engage the audience by telling stories

● Treat your speech like a conversation between friends

● Tell your audience something it doesn’t know

● Include a few jaw-droppers

● Use humour

● Keep it brief

● Engage all the senses by painting word-pictures

● Be authentic.

 

 Don'ts:

● Say nothing until something comes up on the screen.

● Spend all their time talking with their backs to the audience.

● Speak in a monotone voice with no breaks and no rhythm.

● Have no eye contact with the audience.

● Have body language says "I don't want to be here."

● Fidget with a pointer or clicker while fumbling through slides.

● Fill slides with too many bullet points charts and graphs..

● Try to communicate too much too fast.

● Have little patience with questions and explanations.

● Believe that visual data will be auto-absorbed by their audience.

 

©2013:Tim Newlin & timtim.com

 

 

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