Better Public Speaking

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Better Public Speaking

How would you know if you are better at public speaking today as compared to last year? Can you recall the last memorable talk or presentation you attended? Now, did it come to you easily, or did you have to crack your brains to remember one? Sadly, too many presentations are easily forgotten. And that’s a big problem because the primary reason the speaker gave the talk was to impart something important to you.

If you were the presenter you might want to consider the three basic things that you can do to ensure that your future speeches are understood and remembered time and time again.

You’ve probably stumbled upon these principles before. As such, they may appear to be somewhat obvious and deceptively simple. Nevertheless, it works all the time. These three basic principles are:-

      Be prepared
      Have a theme for your speech
      Keep your message clear and concise

Be Prepared

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I suppose that you’ve heard this statement a million times. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you understand the importance of preparation. A speaker who is well prepared is a speaker who respects his audience. It is like dressing well for your job interview or first date. The moment the audience detect that you are ill prepared, they will lose respect for you. Are you willing to risk losing the respect of your audience? You decide.

Preparation is probably the most important factor in determining your communication successes. When possible, fix meeting times and speaking engagements well in advance. This will buy yourself the time you need to rehearse your speech. As a rule of the thumb, a one minute speech deserves a thirty minute rehearsal. However, if you are well versed with the subject especially if you are a lecturer who delivers the same talk every other day, you may reduce your rehearsal time according to your discretion.

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Then again, not all presentations can be scheduled. In this case, preparation may mean having a thorough understanding of the nature of the issue, which will enable you to speak with authority. When I lack the time to rehearse, I practice in my car while driving to the event. It surely beats the stress of getting caught in traffic jams 🙂

Have a theme for your speech

I.P.E.E
The acronym above stands for Inform, Persuade, Explain or Entertain. A combination of one or two of the above needs to be your theme.

While preparing your talk or presentation, it’s crucial that you understand what you want to say, who your audience is and why would they be interested to listen. To do this, ask yourself: Who? What? How? When? Where? Why?

Who are you addressing? What are their values, interests and beliefs? What are the common desires with the others in the room? For example, if you are addressing a group of diabetics during a health talk, obviously these people would want to know how to enjoy a better quality of life. They will most likely be looking for hope, solutions and encouragement to deal with their ailment.

Therefore, coming back to I.P.E.E, what message do you wish to convey? My gut feeling would tell me to use a combination of Inform, Persuade and Explain in this situation. I would prefer to leave the “Entertain” aspect out of this type of speech because it could backfire if I’m not careful with my choice of words.

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Keep your message clear and concise

When it comes to crafting your message, less is more. However, this is easier said than done. In order to pull this stunt off, you will need to have a superb command of your spoken language. Your vocabulary and grammar has to be excellent. Only then, you will be able to shorten your sentences without losing its meaning.

Let’s come back to the diabetic talk again. Let’s assume that you are a doctor who is delivering this speech. Try to avoid too much information or excessive medical jargon. This will only serve to overload and bore your listeners. Once they are overloaded, they will mentally shut down. When you look into their eyes, you’ll get the impression that “the lights are switched on but nobody’s at home”. Remember, they are not expecting to become experts on the subject. They want solutions, hope and encouragement. Therefore simplicity is best.

If you’re using slides, limit the content of each one to a few main points, a single statement or a picture. Look at the picture on this page with the caption I.P.E.E. As you can see, I have used a picture to help you remember this acronym 🙂 If you really need to provide them with a lot of technical data, this data can be provided to the audience in electronic form for them to download and read prior to or after your presentation.

In conclusion while implementing the three basic principles you learnt today, ask yourself what your ‘success criteria’ is. How would you know if and when you have effectively communicated what you had in mind? If you presented in a formal workshop, distributing a feedback form to all participants would be useful. This questionnaire will serve as a good indicator of your strengths and areas of improvement.

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Therefore remember the three basic principles which are:-

      Be prepared
      Have a theme for your speech
      Keep your message clear and concise

All the best to you 🙂