The good news: public speaking is the most efficient way for hundreds or even thousands of people to hear about your product or idea. The bad news: many people don’t utilize this approach effectively. Not only has our culture cultivated a dread for public speaking, but it has become quite daunting, causing a great loss of opportunity. And when it comes to entrepreneurship, opportunity is king.
Recently, I had the opportunity to deliver a workshop on my longtime passion of public speaking. In case you missed it, here are my tips on how to make this necessity both effective and enjoyable for speaker and audience alike.
1. “Common sense seems to exit the stage as we, the speaker, enter it. Remember why you are there, who you are talking to, and most importantly, why your audience is there.”
Start with the basics to relieve tension for yourself: show up on time, test your equipment and prepare for questions. Next, choose a word that describes your intent and the reason why your attendees are present — do you want to motivate, inspire, persuade, or cause people to take action? — and keep this as a theme throughout your presentation. These steps will have you feeling cool and confident before you meet a single set of eyes.
2. “Take steps to humanize yourself to your audience. Stay relevant both on and off topic.”
Do not become so focused on your subject matter that you can no longer contextualize yourself or your product to the audience. Of course, you should stay up to date on your field of work (a new tech company ought to be aware of advances in new software, for instance), but be sure to branch out into other fields. Being able to discuss other sports, hobbies and current events can spark a previously hidden perspective or interest.
3. “Body language is equally as important as content. Find your own personal balance in how you orient your body, variance and scale of arm movements and how you make eye contact. Do what feels natural for your setting.”
The best speeches are equally riveting to listen to and watch (think Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street”). Remember to always vary gestures. Try to move slower in more formal settings and faster during informal presentations. It is a simple element to keep your audience engaged.
4. “Timing is critical. Whether it be voice manipulation or the delivery of information, you have to be aware of it.”
Structure speeches “whole, part, whole” — introduce a topic, discuss a facet, and reintegrate it into the whole picture. Changing your tone and volume to emphasize certain points at particular times will facilitate this flow. Additionally, showing particular enthusiasm at the right time can make a feature of your product exciting for your listener.
This workshop’s intent was to provide insight into different aspects, approaches and techniques to achieve success in public speaking. Although the task can initially seem unnerving, the process can be immensely awarding. I will leave you with the words that have guided me both in my life and public speaking career: adapt, improvise and overcome.
Want more tips like these? Attend our regular Workshops program events at Lassonde Studios. We have guest experts presenting on a wide range of topics. Learn more about the program and see what workshops are coming up at lassonde.utah.edu/workshops.