The first part of this article is written by my wife, Sangeetha.
She has written some very good points and there is hardly anything that I need to add to it. She is in my opinion perfect in every aspect. I started public speaking when I was about 8 years old in school. It took me some time to learn the art. Once we do learn then we get addicted to it. I’ll add some more tips and some do’s and don’t of the things I have learnt over the last 20 odd years.
- Have an attractive Title
The title is a very important aspect for books , films, music albums and so on. Seminars are no exception. e.g. Rather than having a book title as “My life – Jack Welsh”, the book gets more impressive when the title is “Straight from the Gut – Jack Welsh”.
- Dress the best you can
Always dress better than your audience. Show that you care about being on stage and making the day memorable. They would be watching you and your presentation so you need to be at your best. This does not mean wear clothes which make you think more about what you are wearing. It just means that you must be clean and well dressed. Everybody must know about the effort you have taken for this presentation. Look pleasant, enthusiastic, confident, proud, but not arrogant.
- The right body language
Body language is important. Standing, walking or moving about with appropriate hand gesture or facial expression is preferred to sitting down or standing still with head down and reading from a prepared speech.
- Time Management
Come early. Be organized from start to end. Never come late for a seminar. People would have left important things to hear your views. It is also a good idea to say that “This presentation has 3 section. Each section would take approximately 15 minutes”. Things like this give an idea to the audience about the time they are going to spend and what they’ll learn.
- Go with the crowd
Sometimes speaks tend to go too fast or too slow. Always keep the pace with the crowd. Everybody should be able to follow what the speaker is talking about. Also give breaks in between. Breaks are the reasons why we have songs and heroines in movies. The human mind can’t really concentrate for over 28 minutes at a stretch. So bring in some jokes or story in between to keep the crowd connected with you always.
- Make clear slides and handouts
Make sure your slides and handouts are legible to everyone. You know you’ve lost when you have to say: “I know you can’t read this slide, but there’s some very important information here.”
- Avoid jargons and high tech terms
Don’t assume everybody knows what you know. If you give an acronym, immediately follow-up with the definition. Try to keep the presentation as simple as you can. Don’t think of the things you need to add, but think of the things you need to retain to express your points completely. They sayYou know you’ve achieved perfection,
Not when you have nothing more to add,
But when you have nothing more to take away.
- Be lively
Never take a presentation as though you are reading a book. Express your self. Express the points well. If it is political, blame the opposition. If it is about child care, express that care. If it is on computers, make it well formatted like a program. Finish the slides for the presentation a few days before the talk. This way you get to sleep early the night before the presentation. Never be sleepy while you talk.
Taking the presentation is just the beginning. Always keep a system where you can follow-up with the audience. This way the talk becomes useful.
- Be the expert
Never ever say “I am not an expert in the subject”. If you are not an expert become one and come else everybody who has come to hear you is wasting their time. The truth of the matter is that nobody is an expert in any subject. We are just better than others in relative terms.
- Be Positive
Always start on a positive note. Never talk about the problems only. We all face problems. We all want solutions. When you speak talk about solutions. Also never tell your audience that you did not get the time to prepare or you are not well. These are ways to bail yourself out of any possible errors. But remember what you are doing is telling the group that I did not find this group interesting enough to talk to. So bear with me. In most cases what the speaker needs is some confidence. The last thing he should ever do is to act like an expert then. Nobody would know the difference if you are good at it.
Convince the crowd why you are the right person to talk on the topic and then follow it up with a great presentation. Make it a memorable experience for everybody. Speaking can be a great experience.