How to be a Great Speaker
by Sandra Schrift
Did you know that great speakers are often nervous with butterflies in their stomach before giving a presentation? And there are many actors/actresses who can not speak to live audiences without cue cards. My 13 years as a professional speakers bureau owner allowed me to hear several thousand speakers give their presentations. Here are a few tips I learned from them.
1. You want to be nervous. Get your butterflies to fly in formation. Some tension brings about a great speech. You usually don’t look as nervous as you feel.
Be prepared, be relaxed. Practice, practice, practice. Use visualization techniques. One speaker suggests that you curl your toes and get rid of your adrenalin. Get out of your head and in to your heart. Reduce nervousness with self talk. Your mantra might be – “I am a relaxed, confident speaker.”
2. Great presentations are well organized.
Opening – You have 60seconds to get their attention. So start with a great question, quote or short story. Tell ‘em what you will tell them.
Body – Tell ‘em. This is where you tell your 3-4 points supported by your stories.
Closing –Tell ‘em what you told them. Give them a call to action. What is one idea they can use immediately? in seven days? in one month?
There are basically two kinds of presentations – Informative (to know) Persuasive (to do)
Be sure you know what you want your audience to do as a result of your presentation.
Ask. . . What do they need to know to do this? What do they need to feel to do this? Then provide 3-4 points in the body of your message and provide transitions between the points.
3. Great speeches have great stories. Sprinkle them throughout your presentation. We delineate our thoughts visually and your audience needs to “see” what they “hear.”
4. Technology is just a tool. Do not be a master of ceremonies to your PowerPoint. It is not the presentation.
Here are some guidelines to follow:
1.Necessity – is this visual aid going to enhance the audience’s understanding
2.Clarity – to help people understand
3.Simplicity – PowerPoint with words – no more than five words per line and five lines per slide. Color – color enhances the slide – but only use a few (we’re not talking about your kid’s 300 Crayola box of crayons)
4.Visibility – keep it large and clear
5. Your voice is the source of power. FDR, Martin Luther King, Churchill used the power of their voice. Remember people need to see what they hear. Slow down, add a pause, whisper . . .use your voice to change tones, be loud or soft as needed.
6. Use your eyes – to make contact with audience. Focus on one person at a time and all the other people will feel as if you are talking to them also. This will help you to connect with people and make them feel you are there for them.
7. Interact – provide your audience with short role plays or partnering exercises. This gives them an opportunity to practice what you are telling them to do. Give them an opportunity to tell someone about their challenge and get some feedback as to how to resolve it. Then they can walk out the door at the end of the program ready to think or act differently. This is what every great speaker wants!