Great speakers prepare not only their message, but also their delivery. Include elements in your presentations that keep your audience engaged and alert. Plan practices like these:
- Alternate your style. With your voice you can vary the tone, pitch, volume and pace. Choose changes that fit with your message. Tip: Lead the audience to hang on your every word by saying your key point in a soft voice. Then repeat it in a normal tone.
- Move around. If the setup permits, leave the stage and walk among the audience members. That makes it easier to interact with them.
- Involve the audience. Plan small-group exercises, ask questions, take polls and invite listeners to role-play something you have just discussed.
- Share the stage. Invite someone else to present with you. Interact as you speak, rather than just dividing the time and topics.
- Build in flexibility. Structure your presentation so you can speed through or avoid one section and delve deeper into another, depending on the feedback you observe from the audience.
- Choose visually interesting graphics. Display slides that excite and are memorable.
- Use props. Give the audience something to look at other than you.
- Schedule breaks. If you will be speaking for more than an hour, announce at the beginning when you will take a short break. Give attendees enough time to walk around, drink some water and chat.
- Show off your hidden talent. In all but the most serious speeches, you can probably find a way to work in talents such as juggling or playing the violin. One British speaker promised his American audience that he would teach them how to brew a proper cup of tea, something he said Americans were woefully inadequate at doing. As he wrapped up his session on health care, the audience reminded him to fulfill that promise.
– From the editors