Monday, January 28, 2008

Best Kept Secrets on Public Speaking

What really separates a good speaker from a GREAT speaker? The kind of presenter you instantly feel a connection with, trust and you are impressed with not only their presentation style but their knowledge, wisdom, charisma and influence.

For this issue, we will share some best kept secrets from famed and noted speakers/presenters that you may not be aware of but consider taking on board for your next presentation.

1. When You Seek To Impress, You Will Fail To Impress - Wait a minute, what does that mean? Am I not on stage to impress the audience? Ironically enough, you will impress the audience when you are not looking for it. Here's the point. Many speakers tend to focus on themselves, what they know, how much they know, how well they speak, how impressive the content is, and it goes on and on.

They may reach some people but they will never truly command an entire audience. Why? Because people generally are not interested in what you know, they are interested in what you know that can make a difference for them. Craft your presentation to benefit your audience and you are just the messenger, not a star on stage. Your audience will feel a connection, wish to hear more if there is something in it for them.

2. The Audience Wants You To Succeed, Not Fail - Many speakers have worries such as "What if I make a fool of myself?" or "I don't want to sound like an idiot" or "What if I totally go blank?" One of the first rules of a successful presentation is PREPARATION, PREPARATION, PREPARATION so you can rely on that for not drawing a blank or not knowing what you are talking about.

If ever there is that most feared moment of losing your train of thought or the mind goes totally blank, remember that it is OK, it's not the end of the world. Of course, we want to avoid this from happening but if it ever did, just take a deep breath and move on to the next point you do remember rather than dread or fear this moment from happening.

Believe it or not, your audience does not want you to make a fool of yourself and they actually want to see you recover from such a moment. And should this dreaded moment ever happen to you, realize that it makes you more human and real and generally, the audience will laugh along with you, if you can laugh about it yourself.

3. A Conversational Tone Wins Audiences - Many speakers, when preparing for a presentation, will craft a most beautifully written speech filled with impressively long words and/or perfectly constructed sentences that are worthy of marketing brochure. They, then proceed to read this off from a script and it may sound nice, but it will not completely win your audience over. We write differently than we speak and if you do not always speak with perfect grammar or in long sentences, then it will seem false, pretentious and not the real you.

Speak to your audience as if you are speaking to someone from across the table in a conversational tone. This will make you more credible, genuine and sincere. After all, we are not going to buy from someone who is overly polished or flashy. We want to do business with someone we feel is genuine and someone we can trust.

4. Do Not Speak Like a Speaker - Yes, sounds contradictory doesn't it? Similar to point number one, when speakers focus on "me, me, me" they tend to lose rapport with the audience. Speakers should prepare their presentations for the benefit of the audience and what value they will get out of the speech, rather than what content the speaker "thinks" they need to know.

There is a saying "I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care." From a presentation perspective this means a presenter needs to be focused on the audience's needs and ask questions such as: "What value will they get out of my presentation?" "What message do I want to make clear?" or "What will they remember or what action will they take after the presentation?" Avoid what most speakers do and by using a template speech, or worse, a standard PowerPoint presentation. Take the time to learn more about your audience and tailor the message to fulfill their needs.

5. Your First Minute On Stage Sets The Tone - Often speakers are distracted with plugging in their PowerPoint presentation or resolving some technical glitch while the room is darkened and with their backs to the audience. This does not make for a great first impression.

If you are presenting to a group of people you have never met before, the first minute is when they will form an impression of you and they will spend the rest of the presentation validating that impression.

It is vital to start strong and not stammer, look awkward or be embarrassed over a technical difficulty with your PowerPoint. Some key tips to make sure you have a strong start is to focus on your opening line and start with good posture. If possible, have someone introduce you which builds up your credibilty and creates anticipation.

If using PowerPoint, sort out your set up well in advance and do not start a presentation in the dark. Introduce yourself first, connect/engage with your audience BEFORE you dim the lights and show your first slide.

Join us at our upcoming workshops to integrate these best kept secrets into your next presentation. Details are below:

Date: Monday, February 18th or Saturday, March 1, 2008
Time: 10:00am to 6:30pm
Venue: 15/F Grandview Commercial Centre, 29-32 Sugar Street, Causeway Bay, HK
Cost: HK$1,980 for one - HK$3,500 for two
To Register: Send email to for the February 18 workshop or for the March 1 workshop or call +852 3102 8032 or simply click on the icon in the right hand column to register online.

Look forward to seeing you very soon!

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