Speaking is a daily activity and not just a ‘performance’ for your next virtual meeting or live event. You need to instil some actions, behaviours and disciplines to make speaking natural, relatable, and sustainable.
You are the presentation and slides are your tool. Slides should never take over you as the presenter. If you are using slides, use powerful images that evoke emotion and aids in the understanding of your material. Know your material, have a passion for the content. Illustrate points using facts, figures, illustrations, stories and visuals. Conduct dry runs of your speech testing all the equipment. Take the time to plan, package and present your speech. User a timer to rehearse your speech – have at least one minute as buffer time. Vary the pace of your speaking. Too fast: your audience does not have time to digest the content. Too slow: you bore your audience. Speak calmly and steadily.
Arrive early for your presentation and use the time to test the equipment, get your content ready and greet your audience. Take a deep breath and relax: mentally you have attracted this audience because you are ready to speak to them.
The use of humour
There are three types of humour to consider using in your speech: sarcasm, self-deprecating humour and daily funny. Sarcasm can work but has the danger of alienating your audience if they have a bias, prejudice or personal opinion on the matter that you are referring to. Self-deprecating humour is usually the safest with a new audience who is getting to know you. You tell your story, you laugh at yourself, they laugh and feel sorry for you and then you re-align the message of your humour back to your main content. Finding the funny in daily events can either be something that is in the news or something that has happened in your life that anyone can relate to: like embarrassing moments while presenting virtually. If you are going with this form of humour, choose something that everyone knows and can relate to and remember to align the message back to your main message.
Make speaking a lasting skill
Every time you speak, you are a leader of your audience. Your role is not only to offer yourself as a specialist in your field but to change the mindset of your audience. Be prepared to use any opportunity to grow your skill as a speaker. This could include business events and speaking occasions in your personal life such as weddings and parties. Remember that it is a privilege to speak. With limited speaking slots, someone has asked you to speak because they believe in your message. Respect the privilege by preparing adequately for your slot. As a speaker don’t aim to be perfect – this does not exist. Instead, just start speaking. Call that attempt your first go and then improve from there. Avoid comparing your speaking ability to other people – your growth as a speaker has its own journey. You should not try to mimic another speakers style – your audience will sense the inauthenticity.
- The more you speak, the more your skill as a speaker will grow.
- Your confidence will grow with every talk that you deliver. Keep speaking.
- The greater your energy as a speaker, the more energy you indirectly transfer to your audience.
Dineshrie Pillay CA(SA)
Business Owner and Public Speaking Trainer