Are you interested in learning how to give a speech?
I do about 35 to 45 speeches a year at events, trade shows and corporations around the country. The topics include branding, marketing strategy and social media.
Over the course of time, I’ve jotted down a few notes on how to give a speech that I thought I’d share with you. After all, sooner or later, you’re going to have to give a speech to your CEO, your shareholders or some other interested party, so it never hurts to be prepared.
Kinds of Speeches: For starters, it’s important to understand that there are many different kinds of presentations. In fact, something as simple as a voice mail is, essentially, a short speech.
Here are some of the different forms of speech-giving that you’ll want to be familiar with:
- Sales meetings
- Staff meetings
- Voice mail
- Team meetings
- Updating superiors
- Talking to your spouse
- Job interviews
- Social functions
As you can see, giving a speech isn’t always done in front of a large audience. Sometimes, it’s a one-on-one form of communication. What makes it a speech isn’t the number of people you’re giving it to as much as the importance of the communication.
That’s worth repeating — what makes something a speech isn’t the number of people you’re giving it to as much as the importance of the communication. The more important the talk, the more it qualifies as a speech.
Presentation Prep Sheet: If you don’t prepare your speech in advance, you won’t look confident. So be sure to think through the following issues:
- What’s my objective?
- What’s on the mind of my audience?
- How am I going to begin the presentation?
- How am I going to engage the audience during the presentation?
- How am I going to close with a strong finish?
- What’s the desired outcome of my speech?
Looking Confident: It’s important to look confident during a speech. One of the classic mistakes people make when giving speeches is that they think if they move around the room they’ll be seen as energetic and passionate. Actually, the opposite is true — when you move around too much, you look nervous and ill-at-ease.
If you watch my speaking style on my Keynote Speaker page, you’ll notice that, for the most part, I stay in the same place. It may feel strange to stand in the same place when you give a speech, but it’s the best thing you can do to communicate confidence. After all, a rock doesn’t flinch. Neither should you.
(Side note: Energy and passion are communicated through your voice, not your movement. Use your voice to communicate those emotions, not your feet.)
Voice Control: You may not agree with Rush Limbaugh’s politics, but you have to give the guy credit — he’s got a fabulous voice. Next time you’re listening to him, notice how he uses volume, inflection and tempo to express himself. By changing things around, he keeps the listener engaged.
Here’s a trick. Leave yourself a voice mail so you can hear your own voice. Go ahead, just close the door. When you leave the voice mail, see how many different ways you can use volume, inflection and tempo to come across as:
See? Leaving yourself a voice mail isn’t that bad. And everybody in the office thought you were crazy already, so no big deal.
Avoid Verbal Graffiti: What’s verbal graffiti? Just ask your teenager. Every “uhhhh,” “you know” and “like” is verbal graffiti. The key to eliminating verbal graffiti is to recognize you use it. If you don’t catch yourself doing it, have an accountability partner let you know whenever you use it. That’ll stop things pretty quickly.
Get Your Audience Involved: Remember, the idea behind a speech isn’t to have a monologue, it’s to have a dialogue. When you have a back-and-forth communication going on, it makes the talk much, much more interesting for your audience.
Here are some ideas you can use to get your audience involved:
- State up-front that participation is expected
- Ask them questions
- Use the phrase “write this down” followed by a list
- Use props: maps, flip charts, dry erase boards, products, drawings
- Use an outline that requires the audience to fill in the blanks
- Use audience members in your stories
- Ask their opinion
- Ask them to raise their hands
- Use video clips
Handling Questions: I had one very important presentation several years ago that I was really prepared for. About a day before the presentation, I started thinking through the questions the client-prospect might ask.
I ended up coming up with 40 different questions, then broke those 40 questions into 5 different categories. I assigned each category to a different member of the team. When the client-prospect asked a question, the category of the question was self-evident, so the appropriate team member stepped forward and answered the question.
It was brilliant. And it was the best presentation I was ever part of.
Did we win the business? Hell, no. And I’m still pissed about it.
How to Control Fear: There are several tips on controlling fear that you might find useful.
- Memorize your first two minutes
- Keep notes handy, but don’t lock your eyes on your notes
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
- Arrive early. At least 30 minutes prior to going on stage
- Mingle before you go on stage. By chatting people up, you’ll have some friends in the audience
- Visualize success
- Be yourself
- Don’t drink to much coffee
- In the evening, don’t drink too much alcohol
Other Tips and Tricks: Here are a few other odds and ends I’ve come up with over the years.
- Start in the middle. Seriously, skip the whole “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them” thing. Just dive in. People hate agendas. Agendas put people to sleep.
- In a presentation larger than 3 people, you should stand. (Unless it’s a regular status meeting or something, in which case you can sit. Otherwise, stand.)
- Flip your own slides. It’s really annoying when people say, “Next slide…” 57 times during a presentation
- Own the room
- Don’t lean on anything
- Plan for 1 to 2 minutes per slide
If you’re interested in more information on this topic, a good book to read is The Exceptional Presenter by Timothy J. Koegel. It’s short and sweet and packed with good tips.
If you’re interested in having me speak at your event, trade show or corporation, just send an email to Jamie.Turner@60SecondMarketer.com.
For a video sample of my speaking style, hit the “play” button below. Feel free to borrow some of my techniques for yourself!
Posted by Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer, the 60 Second Marketer, the online magazine of BKV Digital and Direct Response. Jamie’s book, co-authored with Dr. Reshma Shah, can be previewed by clicking “How to Make Money with Social Media.”