got to care about your subject and care about the audience
A speech is not a
performance. Rather, it's a relationship that you create with a group
of people. Like any good relationship, a speech requires caring, trust,
openness, accessibility, and two-way communication. Whether you speak
on the job or as part of community service, here are a dozen tips to help
you transfer your people skills to the platform:
1) Be gracious and
friendly: Greet audience members when they walk in the door, as if you're
hosting a party. Shake hands. Make them feel welcome.
2) Dress appropriately:
You're the guest of honor, but keep it simple; don't distract the audience
with swooping scarves or noisy jewelry.
3) Put them at ease,
literally. If an audience member has to turn her head to see you, she'll
feel neck strain -- and eventually even get angry. Request curved seating
ahead of time, and move chairs yourself if you must.
4) Get to know your
audience. Ask the meeting planner who's coming, chat with folks beforehand,
and poll them from the platform. The more you know, the better you can
speak to their concerns.
5) Speak from the
heart -- and the head. Choose a topic that you a) care about and b) know
about. If you can't establish expertise, they won't believe you. If you
don't care, they won't care either.
6) Communicate clearly.
Choose one main point. What, exactly, do you want people to remember?
7) Involve the audience.
Invite someone up on stage to demonstrate a point. Or ask them to think,
imagine, remember, raise hands, take notes. The more involved they are,
the more likely they are to enjoy your presentation -- and feel connected
8) Get personal. Tell
personal stories that illustrate your message -- and reveal something
of your humanity. As in any relationship, self-disclosure will build trust.
9) Get close. Walk
out from behind the lectern. This will make a tremendous impression since
it will bring you closer, dispense with the lectern "shield," and differentiate
you from most speakers.
10) Be lighthearted.
Humor will relax the audience and make you popular; everyone loves to
laugh. Even if you're not spontaneously witty, you can plan ahead to share
stories (relevant, inoffensive ones) that you've practiced on friends.
11) Send thank-you
notes. When you speak, you're not only creating a relationship with your
audience, you're creating a relationship with the person who invited you.
12) Learn from the
experience: Like any relationship, a relationship with an audience can
teach you a lot about yourself. Take notes on the process afterward, continue
to practice your people/speaking skills, and you'll create increasingly
rewarding relationships with your audiences over time.