Rather than becoming deflated after botching a speech, recognize and fix your mistakes to become a stronger speaker next time around.
Start by analyzing your technique. Objectively review a recording of your failed speech, or ask a trusted colleague who heard your presentation to give honest feedback. Scrutinize body language, vocal tone and energy level. Identify words that needed more emphasis and ideas that needed more explanation.
In addition to noting what you did wrong, note what you did well. Build on your effective techniques and find a way to use any bad habits to your advantage.
Example: If you utter too many filler words, “ums” and “uhs,” practice pausing and being silent instead. That will make you appear thoughtful.
— Adapted from “How to Recover From a Disastrous Speech,” George Dixon, Presentation Magazine, http://www.presentationmagazine.com.
Stop dwelling on your occasional misstep and focus instead on your success as a speaker. Photocopy your certificates of achievement, copies of positive evaluations from previous speeches and testimonials from clients and friends. Pull together everything that makes you feel good about yourself as a speaker. Use that material to create a book of your speaking successes, and refer to it when you need inspiration before you take the stage.
—Adapted from “How to Write and Deliver an Outstanding Speech,” www.speakingandmarketingtips.com.
Some speakers script every speech, memorizing each word and gesture. Others speak in the moment, relying on the setting to influence their choices. Which approach is best?
Strategy: Choose from both approaches. The best speakers know a natural style of speaking helps them connect with audiences, but they also know most natural deliveries result from careful planning and practice.
Commit these areas of your speech to memory:
- The opening. Set the stage with a carefully planned and rehearsed opening.
- Humor. When you tell a joke, the setup is important and the punch line is critical. Mess up the words, and you kill the laughs.
- Transitions. Build dynamic bridges between different areas of your speech, and you control the flow and organization and also tie the entire talk together.
- The outline. Memorize an outline of your key points until you can recite it word for word. That helps you avoid losing your place, especially if unexpected events interfere with your speech.
- The close. Your call to action should be precisely crafted for maximum impact.
So what is left? About 75% of your speech should consist of stories, backup details and gestures that are not scripted. That leaves you room to connect with your audience and deliver a personalized speech every time.
-Adapted from ”Should You Memorize Your Speech?” by John Kinde.
Don’t allow your enthusiasm for a subject to undermine your authority when you speak about it. You will be more persuasive when you avoid these faults:
- Speaking too fast. Listeners don’t trust people who talk exceptionally fast. Speak at a moderate pace to hold your listeners’ attention.
- Being too animated. Hand gestures and inflection are important to convey your enthusiasm. However, if you look like you are trying too hard to make an impression, that will distract from your message.
- Not taking a break. It’s easy to become caught up in offering an explanation and forget to stop for air. People are more receptive to speakers who pause naturally for breath and approach their presentations as conversations.
— Adapted from “Pause & Pitch: The Surprising Keys to Persuasive Speaking,” Rebecca Mazin, http://www.allbusiness.com.
As a speaker, you should never attempt to sound “professional” or like someone else. Develop and use your own voice. Being yourself makes it easier to relate to the audience and, more important, easier for the audience to relate to you. Enjoy yourself; your listeners will pick up on any discomfort you are feeling. Confidence and enthusiasm are crucial; without them, you almost guarantee that your listeners won’t connect with you.
— Adapted from “Best Quick Tips for Public Speakers,” halife.com.
Whether you are speaking for 10 minutes or 2 hours, a detailed outline or word-for-word script is the first step in creating a killer presentation. When you write out exactly what you plan to say, you create a tool that will allow you to flesh out your ideas, order your thoughts into logical sequence, and create the kinds of memorable phrases and imagery that make even a run-of-the-mill presentation sparkle.
Don’t, however, make the mistake of attempting to memorize your script or planning to read it during your actual presentation. Instead, use it as a foundation as you rehearse and refine your presentation.
Compose the document with your listeners’ needs in mind rather than your own. Lead with a point or thought that immediately involves your audience, such as a rhetorical question, a customer testimonial or a common misconception. Next identify the opportunity or problem your listeners are most focused on and then offer your solutions, filling in details and asking the audience to act in response to what you say.
Before you consider your script complete, put it to this test: Have you addressed the audience’s concerns in their own terms? Did you present a clear solution? If you can answer “Yes,” then you are ready to succeed.
— Adapted from “Tools and Tips for Quick, Slick Presentations,” Chuck Green, www.ideabook.com.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/buckeyemichelle.