Public speaking is a topic I am often asked about. I have been speaking professionally for at least 10 years. As a college Professor my job is to impart knowledge on my students through a variety of means including verbal presentations. About eight years ago I started getting requests to present to various audiences on different business and career related topics. I was asked to present by a wide assortment of local groups: chamber of commerce, young professional groups and non-profit groups.
The current pandemic has moved many conferences and trainings to zoom and other online formats. Regardless of the modality of the presentations many best practices remain the same. Many people get anxious at the idea of presenting in front of a group of people. Regardless of rather we are presenting via zoom or in person there are a few things we can do to make our presentation really hit home with our intended audiences. Here are a few tips to make sure that you nail your next public speaking event:
1. Identify your desired outcome
As yourself the most important question before you start drafting the presentation: What is the intent of your presentation? Be sure and include some learning objectives at the start of the presentation. That will help keep you on task during the development of your slide deck. After you have completed your draft please make sure all of your content relates back to your key learning objectives.
2. Don’t rely too much on your slides/Practice makes perfect
Many people when public speaking use their PowerPoint deck as a crutch. Many individuals often read directly from their slides. Try not to memorize your content. You should understand the concepts you’re communicating and know the overall structure of your presentation, but don’t recite your speech word for word. The majority of presenters that rely heavily on their PowerPoint deck come off as if they are reading directly from a script. It’s important to practice your presentation several times prior to giving it. The more you practice the more authentic and natural it will sound.
3. Use a conversational tone in your public speaking
The first 60 seconds of a speaker’s presentation will set the stage for the entire presentation. That means you probably haven’t made it past introducing yourself before you’ve either lost or gained the attention of your audience. This tip is related to tip #2. The more you practice your content the more at ease you will be with it. That will allow for the presentation to come off as more conversational and not so formal. Audience members will appreciate a presentation that is both causal and informative.
4. Incorporate examples and anecdotes in your speech
It’s one thing to know something intellectually it’s another thing to experience it emotionally. Real world examples can really help solidify the primary points of the presentation. Every slide does not need a specific example to go with it. Try to identify three to four examples you can utilize throughout the entire presentation to make an exclamation point on certain capstone points.