At one point or another, those of us in business are called upon to do some public speaking. The way we present ourselves is important because it is representative of who we are, our competencies, and how people will view our businesses- thus the quest to attain and refine better public speaking skills is an important one.
Most people looking to get better public speaking skills are initially concerned with adding new entertaining or persuasive elements to their presentations, such as props or humor, or in developing techniques such as hand gestures.
The truth be known, the majority of people can improve their speaking skills dramatically simply by focusing on eliminating the negatives from their speaking before even thinking about adding anything else. That said, here are some simple rules to help you better your public speaking skills and give you better presentations, and thus, better results in your business.
Here are the rules I am training myself to use, things I have read or observed in others who I’ve had the good fortune to work with:
1. Keep it simple
Make eye contact
Don’t do crazy things with your hands
2. Be impassioned.
No matter what you speak about, people want to know that you are excited about it. Now, don’t fake it, but let your passion for your business or product come through!
3. Balance the format of your information.
Don’t try to cram too much into the presentation. Instead, when speaking, cover the basics and leave the details to handouts that can be read later. Use a PowerPoint slide or a few but don’t overdo it (info-wise).
4. Manage the relationships beforehand.
If at all possible, get to know the people who will be listening to you prior to your presentation. This will give them a built-in trust of you and what you have to say.
5. Show, don’t tell.
Show them with stories, examples and personal experience. Don’t just list facts.
6. Get rid of distracting idiosyncrasies.
“Ummms” and “Ahhhs” have got to go. So does jingling coins in your pockets. (I’ve been guilty here many times)
7. Know your material.
Nothing beats having the material down pat. If you do, it will cover a multitude of other problems that may arise.
8. Get the audience to participate at varying levels if effective.
You can use different methods, such as taking time to work alone or with a partner, feedback on certain points or questions and answers.
9. Don’t misinterpret people’s response and get discouraged.
You never know why a person may not be listening or get up and walk out. There are lots of reasons that have nothing to do with you or your speaking. Assume it is something else and keep on going!
I am NOT a great speaker…yet I have had the great fortune to work with some very great presenters and speakers such as some of the incredibly successful people with the HIS Real Estate Network Board of Advisors. I’ve found that by working with these and other successful speakers and presenters, and being diligent practicing what I’ve learned and observed, I have developed better public speaking skills. If you follow these simple rules, you can too.