If you want to speak like a professional speaker then here are ten great tips:
- Before you start to compose your talk think about the single most important point you want to get across. Audiences cannot absorb a large number of messages. So make sure that your key theme is not lost in a plethora of ancillary topics and stories. Patricia Fripp gives this advice. If you did not have 45 minutes but just one sentence what would you say? That is the central point of your speech. Create your talk around that.
- Build a structure. Your talk should have a simple and clear structure to it. For example you might start by stating a problem that affects the listeners. You might explain what causes the problem and why it is serious. You might then introduce your proposal for solving the problem. Then you might finish with a summary and a call to action that lucidly states what you want them to do. Whatever the topic, your talk should build in a logical way so that your audience can easily follow your train of thought.
- Include more stories. People relate to stories. If you have an important message to get across about say customer service then you could use charts and graphs and data on customer satisfaction. But it would almost certainly be better to tell a story about someone who gave great customer service and the impact that it had. Set the scene, describe the characters, tell the story and draw out the lesson.
- Give the person who introduces you a concise written introduction script so they position you correctly. The introduction should establish your authority and expertise. It should mention your topic and why you are worth listening to. It should not be long nor full of exaggerated claims about how wonderful and hilarious you are.
- Always arrive early. Don’t catch a plane or train that just gets you there just in time. Catch an earlier one. Arrive at least one hour before you are due to speak. Check the logistics, microphone, stage, video, audio etc. Chat to the organizer to get a good feel for the event and the audience before you set foot on the stage.
- Use a microphone. For any group of over say 40 and for any after-dinner talk a microphone is vital. It gives you authority, clarity and control. A clip-on is probably best. Do a microphone check before you go on stage. Please do not start by asking ‘Can you hear me at the back?’ It is the mark of an amateur.
- Your first line should have real impact. Start with a bang. You could offer a startling statement, a provocative question, a remarkable fact, an interesting quote or a funny short joke. Practise this line and deliver it with verve and confidence.
- Look them in the Eye. Do not hide behind a lectern or read from your notes. Walk about the stage, look directly at people and talk to them from your heart. Eye contact is important. It engages the audience and raises the level of the talk.
- Pause. The most powerful weapon in the speaker’s armory is the pause. Use it carefully and it will rivet your listeners. For example use it before an important item, after a question or before delivering the punch line to your story.
- When you get a question from a member of the audience, repeat it. There are two reasons. Many members of the audience will not have heard the question and they want to know what you are answering. Secondly it gives you just a little more time to consider your answer.
Rehearse your talk and deliver it with confidence and enthusiasm. Your audience wants you to succeed.
Taken from this great little e-book which is now updated with some 116 tips: