In this conversation, Jeremey Donovan discusses his new book, How To Win the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking.
If this were a list of the human race’s greatest fears, public speaking would be right at the top. Whether it’s forgetting your lines or realizing you have a tail of toilet paper hanging out of your pants, fear of public speaking really boils down to fear of being ridiculed, rejected, and publicly humiliated. But don’t worry — with the following 18 tips, you’ll be fine!
Most people know the basic tips of public speaking…Don’t face the audience, maintain good eye contact, practice. But those basics will only go so far.
Here are some lesser-known “nuts-and-bolts” of presenting advice beyond the basics.
I teach a full-day Presentation Skills course for the British Library, among others, and I recently sought feedback on it from someone I trust. The thing he wanted more on – and it was one of those ‘it’s obvious now they say it’ moments – was presenting itself, the process of it, rather than just preparing the materials. There was indeed a section on this in the training but it wasn’t very long, so in order to improve the course I’ve read up on it a bit more; I learned a lot of useful things (and had others I already knew better articulated to me) so I thought I’d share some of them here.
1. It’s better to know the subject than the presentation.
Learning anything from memory is really hard. But so is looking at notes, or reading presentations out from a script. If I try and learn a presentation I get worried – I’m aiming for something so specific, there’s a feeling of pressure around getting it right, and a feeling that if I forget something the whole house of cards will fall apart.
I prefer to only speak about stuff I know a bit about, and just use the slides to reinforce key points and basically prompt me to talk about certain aspects of a topic, as appropriate to that particular audience. This is much more relaxing than worrying about remembering particular phrases etc. It also means you’re more flexible – things can even be tackled in a different order based on what the audience wants, for example. In short, you can’t be derailed because you’re not on rails. That’s a very reassuring feeling.
2. Imagine your audience leaving the room (after your talk!).
It’s often very hard to know where to start when creating a presentation – the default position is ‘what do I know about this subject?’ but actually that’s the wrong way around most of the time. The more pertinent question is ‘What do the audience want from this subject?’ – if you imagine your audience leaving the room after you’ve spoken, what have they learned, what do they know now, what did they get out of it? Think about what is important to them in that moment, and build the presentation from there – if necessary going and doing more research beforehand, so you can talk more authoritatively about what matters to them.
3. The rule of three (there might be something in it)
I’ve heard many times now that we remember things most easily in groups of three. There’s a lot of it about – 3 act plays, stories with a beginning, a middle and an end etc. Presentations-wise, it’s relevant because the audience will likely only remember 3 things from your presentation, so you need to make sure these are the most important three! If you’re completely stuck for a structure, try the 3:3:3 method – three main parts of your presentation, each divided into three sub-sections, and if necessary each of those subsections divided into three as well.
4. Store your presentation in the cloud.
Of course every presenter takes their presentation along on a USB stick but USB sticks do break sometimes, and they’re small and easily lost. So a sensible back-up plan is to store your presentation in the Cloud, and of course the easiest way to store your presentation in the cloud is to email it to yourself. (Then it’s backed up twice! Once in your inbox, once in your sent box. )
5. Have a one-page cheat sheet.
Part of presenting well is being relaxed, and a lot of being relaxed (for me, certainly) is knowing exactly what you’re doing with the logistics of the day. So make a one page document with EVERYTHING you need to know in it: presentation start time, room number, directions to the venue, contact name and details, train self-ticket machine reference number, etc. – print it out and carry it with you, and email it to yourself so you can check it on your phone. You’re much more likely to arrive relaxed, on time, and focused.
6. Look everyone in the eye, then pick your favorites to come back to.
This is particularly useful for nervous speakers. Public speaking is about communication, and communication is better with eye contact. So I will try to literally look every member of the audience in the eye at least once, at least as far as I reasonably can. (After 5 rows or so, it’s hard to be specific.) During this time, I’ll notice a few people who are particularly receptive – they’re nodding emphatically, or smiling at what I’m saying – and I’ll come back to them throughout the talk, as a form of encouragement…
I don’t get nervous anymore, but even as a non-nervous person I like to see people on my side. (The flip-side of this idea is to work on the more indifferent members of the audience – or even hostile, but that doesn’t come up too often in our industry, thankfully – by focusing more explicitly on them.)
7. Remember if people are looking down at a screen and typing, it’s a compliment.
I can imagine that it can be disconcerting if you’re not a Twitter user, and you see people looking down at their phones rather than up at you. It must feel like kids ignoring what you’re saying and texting their friends. But it’s a good thing! They’re sufficiently invested in what you’re saying that they want to broadcast it to their network on Twitter – it’s also a way for them to make notes at the same time. And of course, that means your words are reaching a bigger audience, which is excellent.
8. Have a Plan B for your intro and your outro.
It sounds obvious but knowing what your opening line is going to be is quite important. Sometimes people decide to with something like ‘Hello everyone, my name is Ned, I’m from York’ but then the person introducing them says ‘This is Ned, he’s from York’ so you really can’t use that one… So know what you’ll say if your planned opener is ruled out for whatever reason. The same goes with the closer – if it’s covered in the questions for example, or if you finish surprisingly early and need some more material to call upon, have a relevant topic in mind in advance.
9. Listen very carefully, an introvert will say this only once…
Lots of people reading this will be introverts; I’m one, certainly. A characteristic we share is only saying stuff once – if it’s said, it’s done with, we don’t want to say it again. I feel embarrassed telling a story to someone if I know I’ve told it to someone else, even if the two people are completely unconnected! But in presentations we have to fight that instinct, and make sure we say the really important stuff (main arguments, big statements, statistics, quotes) at least twice; perhaps in different ways but at least twice nevertheless.
10. Think in tweetbites.
You thought it was enough to think in memorable soundbites! Not anymore. For the maximum impact, your most important statements needs to be tweetable so that your presentation is amplified beyond the walls of the room you’re in. You’ve put hours of work into it, so why not double, triple or otherwise exponentially increase the audience for your key messages? Think in quotable, tweetable chunks (as long as that’s not actually to the detriment of your presentation, of course…).
Tips for shy, introverted, or quiet people to become better speakers, shared by a geeky speaker who overcame his awkwardness to deliver a great performance.
Consider this for a second: Here I was, an introvert which hasn’t spoken publicly for over five years and I was making my Web 2.0 speaking debut at the Super Bowl of ‘social media’ conventions. I was scared to death. If this ended up a smaller affair, I probably wouldn’t have gone through with it. But given it was SXSW it had been ‘too big’ to be able to ignore. I knew that being able to say I chatted at SXSW was too important to not have about my ‘speaking’ resume.
So I tad the bullet, and did it anyway. Now couple of years later, I have gone from as a possible introvert that’s scared to death regarding speaking publicly, to an introvert that basically LOVES it. For almost any introverts out there that are looking to start conversing, here’s what I learned to produce me more at ease the process:
Through the creation process:
1 – REALIZE your material, usually do not memorize it. Extroverts are just naturally chatty folks, right? They tend to be more comfortable ad-libing and making ‘small talk’, it seems. I think we introverts wish to more carefully plan out our presentations, so we know exactly what to say.
Though the big problem with this approach is we can come down VERY stiff, and search as if i am reciting to the actual audience. Nothing turns down an audience quicker over a speaker that’s disengaged.
So here’s what I actually do. When I include created a veranda and am prepared to start rehearsing our presentation, I may carefully script out and about my session, so I understand exactly what I have to say, and when I have to say it. I’ll accomplish this about 5 times and so i have pretty a lot memorized the stuff, and the key points I have to make.
At this aspect, I throw the actual script away. In addition to I keep repeating the presentation without having it. I also break up the flow, if I include 5 points Image rehearsing in purchase, I’ll now do them inside a different order, just to drive myself to break clear of the script and TALK about the points I have to make, instead regarding reciting them. I’ll even be in the center of rehearsing a point and can cut myself off almost like someone asked the question, then from a minute or so I’ll make an effort to remember where My partner and i was and return back.
In the end you choose your presentation to become conversation with the actual audience. You would like to know the material. Because something will ALWAYS get lucky and throw you down base. If you already know the material, you may get back on trail, but if anyone don’t, then you’re inside trouble.
2 – Explain to stories. Everyone possesses case studies, and everyone possesses numbers that back the points they looking to make. Big cope. What you might like to do is weave people case studies and numbers right story. A story that is entertaining, but that in addition shows the people why and exactly how Company X used web 2 . 0, and gives these actionable takeaways for how you can take what Firm X learned, and apply it to their own situation.
When you arrive at the event:
3 – Chose the room where you will end up presenting, and obtain a feel for the actual layout. Walk round the room. Make sure you already know where everything is, where your laptop are going to be setup, where the many jacks are. Will you have a mic, will it be considered a clip-on or separate? Walk around the room. Sit in many of the chairs and make sure the audience could see you from everywhere in the room. Simply familiarizing yourself with all the room beforehand actually helps, especially to have an introverted soul; )
And make an effort to attend sessions in the SAME room previous to yours. This gives you time to see how other speakers do. Is there some problems with all the audio/video? Watch the fact that audience reacts for the session and the actual speaker. What does the speaker do that gets their consideration, what does she do that they don’t such as? Incorporate what anyone learn into your own session and delivery.
4 – Enroll in any pre-show meetups/tweetups. Most conferences should have a tweetup/meetup the night time before the event begins. This is a great chance for you to connect with audio speakers and attendees. Seek to connect with the actual attendees, especially things that will be participating in your session. In case you meet someone that’s thinking about attending, ask them what these are hoping to learn, and why these are interested in this issue. And this in addition gives you a means to incorporate that into your talk. Like “Now let’s discuss getting more comments on your own blog. I was actually conversing with Carla last nite in the lobby about the girl blog…: ” Suddenly Carla and all her pals at her dining room table will immediately perk up and pay consideration (if they weren’t already).
5 – Are able to your session at the very least 15 mins first, so you have time and energy to setup everything. This gives you the required time to get the actual laptop connected, your deck good to go, and make the last-second bathroom function. Also, make sure you have a glass of water readily available. You’re going to become talking for 30-90 minutes probably, and in the event you’re like me, you WILL become nervous, so lacking dry-mouth helps; )
Should you have any extra time prior to starting, what I like to do is walk round the room and create myself to many of the attendees and say thanks to them for arriving. Good way to connect with them, and increases the chances that they’ll pay attention during my session.
Oh and another extra tip, should you be SUPER nervous right in front of you are to be able to speak, eat a number of saltine crackers, it helps settle your stomach and relax the butterflies.
In your presentation:
6 – Give thanks to everyone for being there…and MEAN IT. When I chatted at a similar event a few years ago, I was a lttle bit worried about this issue, which was Think Like a Rockstar: How to create Fans and Group Around Your Social media marketing Efforts. I was worried that it may not be what the crowd (mostly property operators and apartment complex owners) was looking for, and was a lttle bit worried about how well it will be received.
Somewhat to be able to my shock, the actual session was virtually standing room solely, and we were still bringing in chairs to support everyone 5 mins in to the session. I was beyond grateful with the turnout, especially considering the caliber of the other audio speakers and sessions during those times slot, and made sure everyone knew exactly how appreciative I was.
7 – Allow audience know just what’s coming. Tell them exactly what you would be talking regarding, the exact order from the talk, and tell them how you can get involved. Most sessions possess a talk, then questions towards the end. I generally motivate the audience to be able to ask questions when they think of these, rather than waiting to help them to wait till the conclusion, when they might forget the question. But if you undertake this, you ought to be mindful if the actual question-asking is lowering into presentation moment. If you recognize that after the sixth of 23 photo slides that you’ve simply just spent 10 minutes answering questions, then you probably ought to tell the audience that you need to move on at that point.
8 – Maneuver around. At one from the first events My partner and i spoke at, the speakers were being provided a podium on stage, above the actual crowd, with lights shining down on them. No matter what these folks were talking about, having them chained to that podium having to stand in a spot behind the microphone made the actual session seem much less interesting. The audience seemed less interested at the same time, I think the actual unintentional message the format sent was ‘this is often a lecture’.
When the item came time pertaining to my talk, I told the actual organizer ‘You’ve got a chance to mic me in place, I can’t continue to be up there’. Therefore i was the 1st speaker that didn’t present coming from a podium on stage. I was down eye-level with all the audience, away on the lights, and interacting with the audience. The guy that was accountable for videotaping the sessions didn’t want it, but by merely being ‘ground-level’, the actual audience perked in place. They paid consideration, and that manufactured them more employed.
One thing I also like to do is get to the middle of the room. I’m apologies, but I simply just hate staying looking at a group to have an hour. Chris Brogan had an incredible point one time about the difference between an audience plus a community is what sort of chairs face. I have to spend some time in the center, interacting with people where these are.
9 – Realize you will screw up, and likely not a soul will notice. Bear in mind my first point about knowing your current material, and not really memorizing it? Here’s an example where I screwed which up. In preparing to moderate that 1st session at SXSW inside 2008, I made a whole script of what I might say to just about every panelist. I knew the precise questions to request, etc. I possibly made two scripts, one particular was detailed, plus the other was the ‘loose’ script to help keep me on trail. I kept the detailed that you my left plus the loose one to be able to my right.
As a way our session started off, I set the actual groundwork for cures would be dealing with, and the format from the session, closely pursuing my very thorough notes. All was going off and not using a hitch.
Then My partner and i moved to presenting the panelists, and returned to my thorough list, and cautiously started reading down who each panelist was. Then…. it transpired. I read the actual bio for among the panelists off our detailed list, and looked up for the crowd to say to them about the panelist. An easier time locating I looked rear down….. I checked the ‘loose’ screenplay, instead of the actual ‘detailed’ one. I was seeking to see the thorough bio for Mario i could read down, and instead My partner and i saw ‘Introduce Mario’.
At this stage, I was fully confused, and after what appeared like 20 years (in actuality it had been probably a number of seconds), I realized I had stopped talking, and mild (read: OHIO SHIT!!!! ) panic emerge. After another next or two regarding literally being scared to death, I finally found my place in the script, and made. The rest from the session went off and not using a hitch.
But first thing I did as soon as the session broken was apologize to be able to my fellow panelists with the disaster I manufactured during introductions with this seemingly 5 minute pregnant pause. They had no idea precisely what I was dealing with. So I assumed these folks were just being good, so I found a few people that attended the actual session and asked them concerning this, and they didn’t understand what I was dealing with either.
So in fact, I thought I had totally ruined the actual session 2 mins engrossed, over an ‘error’ that apparently not a soul noticed but me. That’s usually the way it goes while you are speaking, and I do believe introverts take possibly minor mistakes additional seriously than extroverted audio speakers. But the reality is, most people won’t possibly notice them.
10 – Engage the people which have been engaged with anyone. Another big advantage to knowing your current material is you can talk about the item, and while that you are, you can connect to the audience. I spending some time looking around the room as I am chatting with see who We are connecting with. The woman at the front left table which nods along as i make a point. The guy in the center right table that laughs as i tell a scam. If they are making time for me, I am making time for them. And these people see this, and that makes them keen on what I was saying.
11 – In close proximity the presentation by means of thanking the crowd for coming (and suggest it), then tell these how to contact you. This is and pimp yourself plus your site. Make sure the actual audience understands that you want the session to be the beginning of a connection in between you and these, not the finish. Encourage them to be able to email you when they have any issues, and I always share my Twitter name and tell the actual attendees to make sure you follow me, and I most certainly will follow them rear.
12 – Allow audience ask issues. Even if this would mean you cut your current presentation short, the actual audience deserves to be able to ask you issues. And this is often a little trick I acquired (actually it’s much more about being considerate of your audience), but if someone at the rear of the room asks a question, walk To the next person and response them. First, this keeps them from requiring you to shout at anyone, and two, this would mean you don’t need to shout your response back at these. Also, it makes other audience members around her prone to ask you a question at the same time.
Doing things this way and thanking the actual audience for coming might seem trite, but in this way you are displaying the audience you care about these, and are genuinely grateful them to came. This makes them far prone to pay attention for your requirements, and be thinking about both you AND what you have to say. Simple common courtesy goes further.
After the affair:
13 – Keep connected. One from the first things I most certainly will do is verify feedback on Twitting. I will thank people that leave feedback, and seriously consider what they are saying. Which points resonated with him or her. Did I want to do something that someone didn’t such as? Did a particular story really struck home for people?
But the financial well being is that We are living proof that introverts cannot only have profitable speaking careers, but you can learn to Appreciate it. Seriously if you needed told me in high school and college i would love conversing, I would have thought you were insane. But I really do, and I do believe you can at the same time. Fellow introverts, what tips for speaking do you have?
I’ve done the “speak for free to five people in a room that holds 100″ thing (proof), I’ve been paid keynote fee’s and everything in between, I figured it was time to share what I’ve learned.