Over the past three years I have spent a great deal of time presenting to schools, church groups, NGO’s, government and more on the subjects of social and mobile media. Public speaking is a wonderful privilege and a fine art. I am not nearly the speaker I could be, but I have some thoughts I’d like to share that may assist you as a speaker or presenter as you forge a career and reputation for yourself.
- Stay true to yourself
There is a plethora of self-help books, training programmes and online resources that will help you become a better speaker, not to mention formal clubs like Toastmasters that are brilliant for honing your craft. Also, it’s essential that you pick up tips from colleagues in the speaking industry. But I want to encourage you to stay true the the characteristics, traits and sometimes even habits that make you who you are – it is one of the ways you’ll differentiate yourself and develop a style that will be memorable. I have given up trying to be like the speakers I admire and instead borrowed valuable stuff, while celebrating what it is that I do uniquely.
- Know your audience
It’s embarrassing to admit but I have found myself doing some last minute tap-dancing on more than one occasion because I took for granted who I would be speaking to. Do some research, ask for a briefing from the organiser of the event, spend some time understanding the industry – certain anecdotes, jokes, stories or illustrations just won’t work as well with some audiences. Rather save yourself the pain and spend those extra few minutes preparing.
- Tell stories
When I think about great presentations I have seen, I remember the stories the speaker told. If you want people to remember what you have to say, tell a story. The nice thing about stories is that you can, unless you’re speaking about a factual event, be quite creative and elaborate. The ability to communicate meaning effectively through metaphors and stories is fast becoming a competitive differentiator for leaders in business, so it’s a no-brainer that us public speakers should refine this skill as part of our craft.
- Use props
One of my favourite stand up comedians is Demetri Martin. His brilliant use of a flip chart inspired me to start using atypical props in my presentations. Today I tend to incorporate flip charts, brooms and even the remote for the data projector in random moments in my presentations. It doesn’t work for everyone, but if done right, can be extremely effective and memorable.
- Speak for free!
What!? Speak for free?? Earlier this year I advertised on this blog that I would be offering anyone who booked me in a specific period of time my social media talk, for free. I pitched it as an initiative to improve my preso, but in actual fact the primary motivation was a marketing one 🙂 I wanted to get out there and get seen, and hopefully use the exposure to land more gigs. It worked. I did 29 free talks and a plethora of consulting business and more talks sprung from the experiment. Why not give it a go?
Record your talks and put the videos on your site – many of you think this will lead to people stealing content or showing their staff your video instead of hiring you. That might well happen, but the fact is that it’s probably going to happen anyways. Rather put your content out there to be viewed, passed on, commented on and who knows – if you’re good enough it might go viral!
I trust these few tips from my speaking experience will help you improve your business, regardless of what level in your speaking career you are at. Good luck!