Public Speaking is usually in the top three fears of people today, right up there with Death, Spiders, and Heights... in no particular order. In fact the appropriate term is Glossophobia. Seinfeld once joked 'at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy!' It seems many would agree. So how do we prevent our speech from dying and ending up in the casket? How do we breathe life into our presentation AND into our audience?
There are a number of ways to combat those fears, starting with a formula for delivering a successful presentation to provide a foundation for confidence. So we'll focus on three simple techniques found in any successful speech. Think of the most enjoyable presentations you've seen, where you learnt something, where the time went quickly, where the speaker entertained you. We've found key elements in these types of speeches. We could list a top ten traits, but we like to work a little simpler than that at Outside the Cubed... all good things come in 3s... so here's the The 3 'E's of Public Speaking
Let's face it, if you're asked to do a presentation it's usually because you're considered knowledgeable or even an expert in the subject matter. So let that knowledge shine through in the Enthusiasm you portray! Yet, when fear is involved Enthusiasm is usually the first casualty. As a presenter, it's easy to get caught up in reading notes line for line for fear of making a mistake, in effect, then forgetting the reason for giving the presentation in the first place.
That's the sort of Enthusiasm we want to share when doing any other presentation! In many respects, we will often encourage you to consider any audience in just the same light, close friends willing to hear your knowledge. Enthusiasm is infectious. We don't have to be highly emotive and animated the whole speech, that can be tiring for our audience. Simply be genuine. Any audience will automatically feed off a presenter's genuine and heartfelt enthusiasm... That's the amazing thing about the unified psychology of an audience, they will feed from it and give it straight back to us as the presenter.
However this is where the work comes in. This means we have to know our topic. We have to have trust in our ability to share the important knowledge held within our skull. This takes preparation. Research the topic, know it well. We don't have to tell them everything though, the key here is being so confident that we know the topic so well that we don't have to be tied to notes, that we can speak from the heart just like at the dinner party. This is when the change occurs... Fear isn't the main thing controlling us, Enthusiasm is!
No, we're not talking about proposing to the audience, but we do want to have them wrapped around our finger. Every speaker wants the audience to be hanging off their every word. Every audience member wants to find something in the material that is applicable for them. If they find personal relevance, they are Engaged and are moved to listen and hopefully act on what we have to share with them.
This doesn't need to be difficult. It's simply a matter of asking yourself "Who are my audience and what's important to them?"
Another important component of Engagement is getting oxygen into our audience... this is absolutely imperative during a longer presentation, say, anything over 30 minutes. Many presenters will fear this even though it's usually highly respected by an audience because it increases their participation. Two key methods to get some oxygen into the lungs are:
When Engagement is done right, it's the best thing in world for both speaker and audience. A Speaker's highest praise can be weeks or months later over-hearing someone repeating key phrasing or advice from their presentation.
For Outside the Cubed, this is the key. The mortar that brings everything else together and is the key catalyst for the other two Es. To successfully Elaborate means we're going to bring out the details, examine the essence and the spirit behind our topic... and we're going to do it with Examples and Illustrations.
We use a formula of finding an appropriate illustration, even if it's abstract, that we can tie in and Elaborate on our topic in multiple ways. Use this to start the speech, refer to it throughout and use it in the summary. If that doesn't come naturally, build up to this point by talking about actual scenarios where your knowledge has been applied. This will certainly come from your heart so you'll be ticking off Enthusiasm and Engagement at the same time.