Posts Tagged ‘improve presentation skills’

Public Speaking: Fact or Myth?

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

1. Eye contact should last about 3 seconds before moving on to next person.

Myth. Many courses on public speaking teach this technique. The problem is that it makes you look superficial. Instead, vary the duration of eye contact with each individual. Sometimes you will make a point to an individual that might last eight seconds. Just be sure to avoid the “stalker stare”.

2. Keep a formal demeanor when presenting.

Myth. I’m not saying be unprofessional, but most speakers appear as if they are giving a eulogy, which is bad . . . unless they really are. Your audience wants to see some personality; so don’t be afraid to be yourself.

3. It is imperative to stay within your allocated time.

Fact. This is probably “more true” than most speakers realize. There are few things that will make your audience resent you more than going past your time. Conversely finishing a bit early will earn you a great deal of appreciation.

4. Speak from the lectern/podium.

Myth. The lectern is a barrier between you and your audience. Perhaps this is comforting to you, but it doesn’t work for your audience. Get out from behind the lectern and you will outshine the other speakers by connecting directly with your audience.

5. Avoid fillers, “ums” and “ahs”.

Myth. Most speaking courses tell you to watch out for those filler words. Some even have the audience count them as you speak. This is counterproductive. The worst thing to tell someone to do before they present is to avoid saying “um”. The fact is that they will say it much more when they make an effort to avoid it. It’s like telling someone, “hey don’t think of a monkey”.

6. Dress at least as formal as your audience.

Fact. While many presenters are overly formal in speech, they sometimes underdress, which can be misconstrued as lack of respect by their audience. Always ask the organizer upfront how people will be dressed.

7. It’s okay to read from your slides because everyone does it.

Myth. Well, yes, almost everyone reads from their slides, but that doesn’t mean that your audience doesn’t greatly dislike it. It’s okay if the slide guides you, for example a ONE WORD bullet point to get you in the right direction is ok. Avoid long phrases and sentences.

8. If you’d liked this blog, you can help me by hitting one the buttons below to share.

Fact.  I would be much obliged.

Take a look at our upcoming full-day public speaking training in Worcester, Mass.

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Public Speaking: Speaking from the Heart II

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

73976251This is the second time I’ve witnessed a speaker ditch the notes and speak from the heart. Once again, it was a huge success.

In a previous public speaking blog entry, I recounted how a presenter’s computer quit, and she was forced to complete the rest of her presentation without her Powerpoint notes.  It proved to be the best thing that happened to her, as she recaptured and maintained the audience’s attention.

Recently, I witnessed a best-man toast.  As is typical, he unfolded a piece of paper and began reading – boring. After a few sentences, he paused, looked up at the guests and said, “I’m going to just speak from the heart, how about that?” The audience applauded, he folded the paper, and placed it in his pocket. There was a small pause, and you could feel how every person was eagerly anticipating his next words.

He went on to speak in a conversational tone about the groom. He earned a ton of laughs and many “aawwws” from the guests. His speech moved everyone in attendance. It was one of the best I’ve seen, and I know he wouldn’t have had nearly that reaction had he simply read his notes.

Once again, case-in-point, when you choose to “talk with” instead of “read to” an audience, you will make a connection, and they will remember you and your message. You might think that it’s a daunting task not to read from your slides and notes, but the beauty is that your audience gives you tons of leeway when you are speaking from the heart. They will simply like you more, and likeability is one of the six pillars of persuasion.

Clearly, when you are giving a training or a much longer presentation, you may need to refer to your notes or slides to make sure you are on track. That’s okay, as long as you are using them as a guide, and not for the verbiage of the presentation itself.

Nothing will endear your audience more than speaking from the heart.

For training on public speaking see our programs here.

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