So you Want to be a Public Speaker?
Have you ever attended a seminar and said, "Wow, I wish I could speak like that"? Well, I've got some great news for you. You can be a public speaker.
There is no such thing as a born public speaker. Public speaking is a learned skill, basically anyone can do it. You just need to follow some simple rules and practice. If you know how to talk, you can become a public speaker. Becoming really good at public speaking requires some risk.
Now understand there is risk involved. You risk being rejected when you ask someone out on a date, and you risk getting into an accident every time you drive your car.
If you were afraid of getting into an accident, you'd never get behind the wheel, right? It has been proven that one of our greatest fears, believe it or not, is public speaking.
The key to getting up in front of an audience is believing that you have something to share with them that may make a difference in their lives - by entertaining them, warning them, encouraging them, or giving them direction or information. In order to be good at anything, you have to practice.
Itâs easy to become discouraged if you expect to be as good as Zig Ziglar, Tom Antion Bill Brooks and Jim Cathcart right out of the shoot. But if you knew their backgrounds you will find that it took a long time before they were able to do what they do so well.
The thing to remember is the only person you need to compare yourself with is yourself. You must constantly work for your personal best, so when you are preparing your speech and practicing, all you need to ask yourself is, âis your second speech better than your first?â Did you learn something new as you prepared for your speech? Did you learn something from the feed-back comments of others after you gave your speech? That's all you need to do. You can use what you've learned to make the next speech your best and then use the same process for each speech you give thereafter. Just take one step at a time.
Find your Niche
The more you like your topic, the more your audience will want to hear about it. There are three ways to determine your power fields, interests, majors and pet peeves. Start with process one and follow these recommendations.
But before you do that, you need to understand, to become a successful public speaker you must be passionate about your public speaking career. You MUST, eat drink and sleep public speaking. You must be focused, determined and control any and all distractions to become successful in this field. It is an absolute must that you love what youâre doing. Yes, itâs important you must enjoy helping people and be around people â communication is a two way process. âThe reason I do this basically is that I enjoy being in front of people. I get fired up, excited and enjoy the interaction. Yes, ego is involved also. Itâs a rush!â
Now, back to where we were. Below are some questions to ask yourself to find your niche. âYour audience will know if you really care about what youâre speaking on â believe me! So, find your niche.â
What do you like to do in your spare time?
What are your hobbies?
What do you like to do at holidays?
What is your favorite travel destination?
What do you like to talk about with friends?
On what issue do you hold a strong opinion?
What issue do you like to know more about?
What values are you standing for?
What special expertise do you have?
What do you fix well?
What special skills do you have?
What special professional or personal experiences have you had in your life?
What speech topic or debate in the news recently focused your attention?
Associate. Lets say you like to talk about Donald Trump. Now write down all things that come up in your mind. All the things related to Donald Trump. E.g. real estate, business successes, scandals, TV productions, his friends, and so on. In other words, you are building a topic tree around Mr. Trump. This method takes some time, but you can apply it on almost every candidate issue.
Is it of great interest to you?
Does it really excite you?
Is it something you're already interested in?
Did you always want to know more about it, but didn't have the time to find out?
Do you love to talk about it?
Do you already know more about the speech topic?
Are you passionate about your subject?
Most importantly, regardless of the subject, YOU MUST BE PASSIONATE ABOUT PUBLIC SPEAKING AND THE TOPIC BE PRESENTED!
Once you have found your niche(s), perfect it/them. If youâve noticed, you can have more than one. It is strongly suggested you have multiple subject matter. Personally, I have eight seminars from one hour to a two week on site venue. Donât limit your marketability with only having one or two. Versatility is the name of the game. But which ever you choose become the expert in that/those subject(s). Stay up to date with changes, technology or whatever impacts change to your subject. Constant research is the key here. Remember, people are paying for your knowledge!
Tools of the Trade:
To start on this subject, I will layout the common tools required to maintain your trade:
1. Laptop Computer
2. Digital movie camera (professional is suggested here)
3. Mobile Projection (presentations)(see InFocus)
4. Thumb Drive (2GIG min)
5. Headset Microphone Wireless System
6. Digital micro recorder
7. The most important tool of all your voice.
â¢ Voice is essential to your profession. To take care of your voice properly is essential to your longevity
â¢ Doâs to project and save your voice:
1. Get an annual check-up from a throat specialist â Prevention is always better than a cure.
2. Consider professional voice training. A voice teacher, professional choir director or singer can make a world of difference in techniques and your sound.
3. Drink six to eight glasses of water daily â this helps to moisten throat tissue and cuts down on dryness which leads to irritation.
4. Drink only water, lemonade or warm liquids when using your voice for long periods of time. Ice cold liquids have a tendency to shock or paralyze the throat and causes strain.
5. Use warm salt water solution or warm lemonade to gargle with after long hours of selling especially if your throat feels tired.
6, Use a quality sound system. Donât buy because of price â buy because of sound.
7. Let the sound system do the work for you â thatâs why you have it. Control crowd with sound system. Turn it up if theyâre too noisy â silence will quite them also. Keep them attentive but not by yelling.
8. Relax your body and voice. You can feel tightness and tension â relax, breathe deeply, relax, breathe deeply.
9. Keep throat moist at all times. Small pieces of candy held in corner of mouth help produce saliva. Avoid menthol candies, cough drops, etc. They tend to cause dryness. NEVER, NEVER chew GUM! Yes it does produce saliva but looks disgusting. âEvery time I see one chewing gum during a presentation I see a barnyard animal chewing cud!â - âOkay, my pet Peeve!â
10. Project voice naturally. Talk naturally but project upward and outward through diaphragm. Talk to furthest person from you to help projection.
11. Practice and try to cultivate the habit of âdiaphragmatic breathingâ whenever you have to speak. Your voice will hold up much better, sound stronger, and be more pleasant for others to hear.
â¢ DON'TS: Here are a few that can affect your voice quality and lead to throat problems.
1. Donât strain â learn proper breathing techniques and protection techniques. Prolonged straining of your voice causes the vocal chords to rub violently together causing blisters or nodules often requiring surgery and then voice therapy to correct.
2. Donât scream or shout excessively â Auctioneers donât speak without a good sound system.
3. Donât use a cotton handkerchief over mike â dust and cotton particles from the handkerchief cause dryness and strain.
4. Donât rely on throat lozenges, sprays, pills, steam to ease throat. This is a dead give-away to problems. Donât spray antihistamines to clear nose. They dry out throat tissue excessively and often cause drainage into throat. Grosse, but true.
5. Donât speak out of pitch â too high or too low a pitch causes voice strain, how do you find your pitch? Talk or hum to determine pitch.
6. Donât cough, sneeze or clear throat excessively â causes incredible stress on vocal chords and irritation from rubbing together that may lead to nodules.
7. Donât speak louder or change your pitch when you have head congestion. You may feel you canât be understood unless you adjust your voice but remember, your audienceâs ears are not congested and they can hear you fine. Slower, more careful articulation will help your clarity.
8. Donât smoke! If others around you are smoking, drink water. This greatly reduces the likelihood of throat irritation.
9. Donât ignore warning signs â hoarseness, laryngitis, sore throat (especially after speaking), swelling, lumps or continued irritation. Donât wait â get it checked by a doctor and hydrate.
Remember; donât skimp on quality with your tools. Your tools are important and cost should not be a factor. You get what you pay for!
As a speaker, you never want to âdieâ in front of the room, but if you take the wrong position, it may very well affect how your received.
Lots of research on covert influence shows that it really does matter where one stands when we present our subject matter.
To satisfy yourself that the position of your body in relationship to others is important, try this. Ask several to help you out. Place two chairs face to face, just about 3-4 feet from each other. Now, assuming you are sitting in one, slide the other over about two feet to the right, so when the other person is sitting across from you, youâll be to their right, and vice versa.
Now have each person sit across from you as you present a short subject. Have them appraise you on a scale from 1-10 how comfortable they are with you. After they have done so, move your chair so that they are now across from you, and on your left and repeat the process. Do this with as many people as you can, because the results are overwhelming. Youâll be shocked to find that almost everyone rates you as being much more comfortable when you are on their right side. Not only that, but research also indicates that you will be seen as more attractive as well. See how this might be beneficial?
So, how do you use this information in a live presentation? While there are more complex strategies, the basic use of this is not only powerful, but simple.
When you first take the stage, youâll want to stand near the center, just off to the right of the audience, or your left. As the presentation progresses, you will want to use both sides of the stage; the side to the right of the audience for anything you want them to associate positive feelings to, and the left side to the things you want them to link to negativity. Ainât science wonderful?
Your mouth is dry, heart pounding, and knees knocking. You go into panic, facing a dreaded public speaking engagement.
âNow understand, I have been speaking since 1973 and have given hundreds of seminars and each and every time Iâm nervous.â
Here are a few tips that may help combat those symptoms and reduce nervousness.
1. Deep breathing will help your brain work to capacity, and forcing the slower pace will quell the panic.
2. Exude confidence; Stand tall, with shoulders back and chest out. Smile. Even though you donât feel happy or confident, do it anyway. You will look confident and your body will fool your brain into thinking it is confident. It works!
3. Keep you mouth and throat hydrated. Plan to keep a drink on hand while you are speaking, though this sounds impossible. Place (room temperature) water strategically placed so you can re-hydrate during your presentation. Know when in your presentation it would be less noticed. If all else fails tell your audience that you need to hydrate. You can make it humorous.
4. Adrenalin sends the blood rushing to the fight/flight centers of your brain at the base of the skull. Place your hand on your forehead and press gently on the bony points. This will bring the blood to the parts of the brain that need it to present your speech best.
5. Know you are prepared. Obviously this depends on actually being prepared, so take every opportunity in the days leading up to the speech to prepare your material. Be familiar with the structure of the presentation, and the ideas to use. Memorize the most important parts, and the parts you might forget.
6. Know your audience, its critical! Their average age, gender, race, income levels, education, generally their demographics. Remember, the more you know your audience the more it will put you at ease.
7. Remember, you are the expert! Yes, there are people who might know more about your subject. I think this way, âif there is a person that knows more about the subject being presented in the audience, then why they are not up here presenting and I seated in the audience?â
7 Keys of making a Speech
1. Grammar â Use correct grammar. Write out your speech in advance and read it aloud a few times. This will help you catch most of the mistakes privately. Ask a friend to listen to the speech and give you feedback or note any grammatical errors.
2. Filler Words â Unnecessary words that do not help convey your point can be distracting. Avoid the use of âuh, ah, um, you know, like, and I mean.â In order to avoid run-on sentences, insert a one-second â pause - between sentences instead of using âandâ or âsoâ to connect two or more sentences. Before you take the stage practice saying any difficult words you plan to use.
3. Body Language â By this, I am referring to unintentional cues you give such as looking at your notes, not making eye contact, slumped shoulders, hands in pockets jingling money, or slouching on the lectern. Practicing in front of a mirror will help you discover your own quirky movements.
4. Gestures â These are intentional movements you use to make a point or illustrate the importance of a word. Make your gestures large enough to be seen by the person sitting in the back of the room. Step away from the lectern when using the lower part of your body; otherwise your movement will not be seen.
5. Vocal Delivery â Avoid monotone and jazz up your presentation by varying your tone (emphasis or emotion), pitch (high or low voice), and rate (fast or slow). All these help keep an audience interested in what you are saying.
6. Topicâ Your focus should be on your audience. An interesting topic is important, but should be relevant to your listenerâs needs. Prepare ahead of time. Write key points on small 3x5 note cards to remind you of what is next. Reading off cue cards is discouraged. Only use them if necessary. Know your subject!
7. Visual Aids â Not all presentations require or need visual aids. However, visual aids and handouts make a your presentation more interesting.
If you have ever given a presentation at work or at a special event you know how nerve-wracking it can be. A little nervousness is normal. It shows that you care and are excited about the opportunity youâve been given to speak. Having nervousness overcome your ability to function in front of an job interview panel can be harmful.
Practice impromptu speaking as a way of learning to respond effectively on a momentâs notice.
Here are a few suggestions about how to rehearse for successful impromptu speaking. For this exercise you will require:
â¢ A timer, stopwatch or clock with a second hand sweep.
â¢ A friend - If you donât have anyone to practice with, youâll have to watch the timer yourself.
â¢ A topic â here are three:
1. What is procrastination and how it impacts ones personal life.
2. You have a friend that has asked you for some advice on why his business is not taking off. You know it is his focus and time management that needs real help.
3. Please give your advice on how to deal with rush-hour traffic.
Take each topic listed above one at a time. Have your friend read one topic aloud then set the timer for two minutes.
Your friend will give you a silent signal when youâve reached one minute and again when you have reached two minutes. Try to keep speaking until you get the one minute signal. Then, wrap up when you get the two minute signal.
Compose your thoughts as quickly as possible and begin addressing the topic. Give a simple opening statement. You may repeat the topic question as your opening. Then, give your opinion about the topic by answering the questions to the best of your ability. Give a summary of what you presented.
Being a guest speaker in front of the right audience can be an excellent way to attract new business. Many clubs, organizations, conventions, and trade shows seek guest speakers who can provide useful information to their audience. The opportunity to speak in front of an attentive group can certainly boost your business, whether you are a service or product provider.
Design your speech or presentation so that the audience leaves with useful information that will help them. Avoid giving a sales pitch; this will be a turn-off for both the audience and the speaker-coordinator.
Here are a number of reasons why being a guest speaker can attract more business:
You are perceived as an expert in your field.
You have an opportunity to get free publicity to promote the event.
You have the opportunity to hand out information to each attendee (with your contact name on it).
You can ask for names and addresses of attendees to build your contact database.
You can chat one-on-one with the attendees after the meeting. Make sure you have a business card!
Checkout your local Chamber of Commerce, local trade shows, or your local Convention Center. In some cities there are Professional Meeting Planners who often seek speakers. Your participation as a speaker at one event may lead to other contacts in the industry.