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Thursday, November 15, 2007

10 Tips To Not Trip Up a Speech

Public Speaking For Success originally uploaded by wardomatic.
At the MarketingProfs Business To Business Forum in Chicago, Ann Handley and I got to talking about public speaking and the tips we've gathered over the years to guarantee success.

[BTW, Ann is guest-blogging at Rohit Bhargava's Influential Marketing Blog - a really cool site even when Ann's not guest-blogging!]

We had so much fun comparing notes, that it only seemed right to share my top tips here. I bet you, too, have accumulated a fair share of worthy words of wisdom. Would you like to share yours? Link to this post, include them in the comments or send them via email to CBWhittemore [at] gmail [dot] com. I'll gather them all together in one place.

Here are my top ten tips:

1. Never eat a banana immediately before a speech. For that matter, avoid dairy products, too. Both contribute to a distracting need to clear one's throat during a presentation.

2. Drink lots of water, ideally with lots of lemon [I avoid ice]. Have water with you at the podium. This helps minimize dry mouth.

3. It's okay to feel nervous. Even the most experienced speakers get nervous. Anticipate it and be prepared. Yes, you'll be aware of it, but the audience won't. No one but you will feel your knees shake. If you're worried about tripping on stage, then don't wear high-heels...

4. In the few minutes before the presentation, clench and unclench all of the muscles in your body. Do that again and again. It will help dissipate excess energy. Remember to breathe. If you tend to race at the beginning of a presentation, then consciously make plans to slow yourself down and breathe.

5. Practice, practice, practice. Videotape yourself speaking. Practice some more, especially the parts of the presentation when you feel most vulnerable. If it's at the beginning, then learn the beginning by heart. Understand the rhythm of your material.

6. Project your voice and your presence. If you're not sure what that means, then go into an empty church or auditorium and practice projecting both without a microphone. Try singing, too. Fill the entire space with your voice. That will really help things click.

7. Make eye contact, with every part of the room. Hold contact for a few seconds. If you forget, place boldly dressed friends in strategic places and look at them!

8. Do not read your presentation.

9. Do not clutch the podium. If possible, stay as far away from a podium as you can [except for when you need to drink water].

10. Remember that you are the expert. Express that energy and passion and have fun. You will be contagious. Guaranteed!

A quick Google on public speaking tips brought up:
+ Presentation Tips for Public Speaking
+ FREE Public Speaking Tips
+ Overcome Your Fear of Presenting

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Gavin Heaton said...

I love the banana tip!

I always have to remember to speak slower. It is easy to speak too fast when you are passionate and interested in your topic.

CB Whittemore said...

Gavin, glad you like the banana tip. It's a mighty powerful one, too!

Valeria Maltoni said...

If I may add one small tip it would be use the pause to highlight something. I watched Jim Collins do this masterfully. He's a very passionate speaker who can take you to new heights. Then he halts and the room is suddenly "his".

CB Whittemore said...

Valeria, what a terrifically powerful tip! I've seen Jim Collins in action and, you're right, he uses the pause. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Also -- SMILE when you connect with those people scattered throughout the audience.. especially if you are concentrating hard to relax (!), which I always am!

CB Whittemore said...

Good point! I remember hearing that good phone reps keep a mirror handy so they remember to smile while on the phone. A smile is so powerful it transmits through a phone!

susankellogg said...

I think, it is very important to choose the right tempo of speech. It is equally hard to listen to slow speech as well as a rapid one. Your own life experience can be very interesting to your audience, too. And if the occasion lets share your experience with other people, do it. Your speech will become more informal and is sure to attract more attention of the audience.

CB Whittemore said...

Susan, great additions! The more attuned you are to your audience the better. Bringing in examples from your own life is really important, too. Thanks for contributing.

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