So, you’ve decided to start giving speeches to promote your product or yourself. You know your subject and you have material ready. Where can you go to speak?
Guess what? There are loads of places looking for someone to speak. The weekly e-mail newsletter from my professional association periodically carries the tagline, “We’re looking for speakers. If you have something to share that you feel would be of benefit to our members, place contact…”
So, where can you speak?
- Service clubs: Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.
- Community organizations: Chamber of Commerce, 4H, Junior Achievement, Libraries etc.
- Professional and trade associations: Realtors, Insurance Agents, etc.
- Direct sales groups: Amway, Avon, PartyLite, etc.
- Church groups:
- Community learning: Community colleges, civic education programs, universities
- Conferences: Local, Regional, National, etc.
- Small business: Small businesses generally do not have a big budget for staff development. Speakers can provide employee training for such business.
- Non-profit organizations: Same as above.
- Speakers groups: National Speakers Association, Local Speakers Bureau, Toastmasters International, etc.
- Related industry listings: Association of Meeting Planners, Corporate Meeting Planners, etc.
- On-line search: Enter “call for speakers” in your favourite search engine.
- Networking: Word of mouth is the most successful way for meeting planners to find speakers for their events.
Think about your desired audience. Don’t go and speak just anywhere and everywhere. If your speech doesn’t fit the group’s function, they may not be listening to what you’re saying.
Not every speaking opportunity carries a cash payment. Smaller groups and organizations will often provide a meal and a small token thank you gift. Larger groups may give an honorarium and others still will ask you to set your fee. If you do a good job of marketing yourself or a product, you will make money.
Get out and do it. You may not be a brilliant speaker at first, but you’ll be good enough and will improve with practice. You will start enjoying it, and the opportunities and profits will multiply.
From the Office of Educational Development at UC Berkeley:
Analyze Your Audience
- Remember that the members of the audience are beneficiaries of your communication.
- Don’t make assumptions about your audience.
- Figure out the basics. Who are these people?
- demographics (age, ethnicity, gender mix, etc.).
- predispositions (hopes, fears, positives/negatives, level of interest).
- knowledge of/experience with subject/me.
- In what kind of setting will you be speaking?
- large lecture hall or small seminar room or classroom.
- lighting and sound issues.
- time of day.
- Take into account the “me, here, now.”
- Picture yourself as a member of the audience and ask “How does this message affect me, here, now?”
- “Me, here, now” translates into what you as a sender have to offer your audience/receivers—what they will be able to understand, accept, support, consider important—because it matters to them.
- Establish objectives for your audience:
- What do I want my audience to know?
- What do I want my audience to do
Openings, and Closings
OPENINGS. Stay away from the predictable (Good morning…, Today, I’m here to talk about…). Instead:
- Begin with a provocative question, anecdote, or current event—and how it relates to the content.
- Ask the audience a question
- Set up a problem—and promise that they’ll have all the tools for a solution by the end of the class.
CLOSINGS. Many speakers simply talk until the end of the time or beyond it—and say, “I see we’re out of time.” Instead:
- Plan a rhythm for your speaking—plan to end with content 5 minutes early, so you can summarize, raise questions.
- Set aside a time for questions—and structure that time.
You won’t cover everything you want in a talk or speech.
- Decide what is essential, what is important, and what is helpful.
- Cover the first; try to cover the second; forget about the third.
- Release a little control over the material and rely on a list of supplementary readings for the nonessentials.
- Set objectives.
- What do you want to have accomplished at the end of the speech?
- What do you want the audience to know at the end of the speech?
- Plan a speech to cover less than the allotted period.
- It takes some time to get going.
- Questions always take up more time than you expect.
- Divide the speech into segments and follow the standard speech structure.
- Divide it in terms of time and material.
- Try for roughly equal blocks, each one on a topic.
- Tell them what you’ll say, say it, and tell them what you’ve said.
- Speak from notes or an outline, rather than a complete text.
- It’s too tempting to simply read, rather than lecture, from a complete text.
- Reading also creates a barrier between speaker and audience.
- Writing up an entire speech is time consuming.
- A written speech often becomes a fossil that never gets updated.
- Be conversational; speak naturally; be yourself.
- That self may be formal, “laid back,” understated, or hyper. Use those traits; don’t fight against them.
- Talk about the material; don’t lecture about it.
- (Talking is easier if you don’t read verbatim.)
- Vary your pacing and voice.
- Gauge audience reaction.
- Repeat critical points immediately if you sense the necessity.
- Use your voice to emphasize the important points.
- Pause before new points.
- Use transitional statements to move to the next idea.
- Use gestures to emphasize points.
- Have your gestures mirror your voice.
- Adjust your gestures to the size of the room.
- Look at the audience.
- Try to cover all parts of the room by dividing it into four quadrants.
- If direct eye contact makes you forget your place, try looking just over a listener’s head, or between two audience members.
- Use language to create pictures.
- Use metaphors, analogies, and similes.
- Observe the techniques of others.
- Try out techniques you admire in others.
- Like any skill, delivery must be learned
Credibility & Commitment
Although speaking isn’t theatre, we know that audience find concepts and ideas most accessible and credible from someone they consider entertaining.
- Think about antecedent image—perception is often stronger than reality.
- Credibility is enhanced by:
- Your own sense of comfort and confidence presenting material.
- Your enthusiasm and interest in teaching.
- Your research and own ideas.
- Commitment is enhanced by:
- Relating your own experience, ideas, and feelings.
- Taking the first person approach, not separating yourself from your subject.
- Relating your “passion” for your subject.
- Delivery is tied to both commitment and credibility:
An old UCLA study of effective presentations analyzed 3 elements (verbal, vocal, visual). Here’s what it found was important in establishing credibility/believability:
- Verbal (words you say): 7%.
- Vocal (how you sound when you say them): 38%.
- Visual (how you look when you say them): 55%.
- Your energy and intensity will move your audience—and help you reach your objectives.
- Learning takes place best in an active, not a passive environment.
- Interaction is a continuous way to
- Assess the me, here, now.
- Determine whether or not your content is understood.
- Share the responsibility of learning more equitably and appropriately.
- How to build interaction?
- Have questions prepared—begin with relatively easy, accessible ones.
- Work to get everyone involved, even in large groups.
- Ask the audience to consider issues with the person sitting next to them/jot down ideas, questions, concerns.
- Discuss as a larger group.
- Move yourself!
- Don’t scurry back and forth, but don’t get locked into one position.
- Explicitly request and encourage questions.
- The audience will see that you have a genuine interest in what they’re thinking.
- Be aware of how your behavior and comments can set the tone for questioning.
- A negative response (e.g., “We’ve already covered that”) discourages further questions and may make the audience think you don’t really want questions.
- Make sure everyone hears the question.
- Repeat it if necessary.
- But don’t make a habit of simply repeating every question.
- Ask the audience if they heard the question; then ask the person to repeat.
- Clarify questions.
- Say, “Do you mean that . . . ,” or “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question,” rather than “Your question isn’t clear.”
- Answer questions as directly as possible.
- Address your answer to the whole audience.
- Ask whether you have answered the question.
- Be diplomatic when people raise tangential, overly complicated questions, or persistently ask questions just to be asking.
- Ask them to stop by after the presentation or to contact you.
- If a someone is simply confused, say, “Let me go over this point a bit more slowly.”
- Get regular feedback.
- Ask the audience to spend the last five minutes of class writing down the most important thing they learned that day or one question they have as a result of the talk.
- Or ask them to write down questions they still have.
- Use eye contact as a tool for continuous feedback.
- If you notice people with questioning looks, stop what you’re doing and ask if you need to clarify.
- If you get no response, go ahead and clarify.
A number of co-workers in our office are transferring to new opportunities in new regions. We had a luncheon today to say goodbye and make some presentations. I was asked to say goodbye to one of the employees who was leaving.
Combining the fear of public speaking with the emotions of saying goodbye, can create stressful situation for people. To simplify the preparation, I have a simple template that I use to write a farewell speech.
- Start with the obvious – use an introduction that says thank you for the privilege of representing the other members of the organization in making the presentation, and perhaps why you were chosen to make the presentation.
- Talk about beginnings – what circumstances brought this person into the company, or what was your first contact with them?
- Tell about the person – what are the personal characteristic that made a contribution to the organization: were they energetic, optimistic, perky, dependable, quiet, friendly, etc? Talk about the things people are going to miss when they’re gone.
- Cover the history – what were the accomplishments or achievements during the person’s time with the company? Use stories, quips, memories to highlight what they contributed.
- Why are they leaving? – if appropriate, touch on the circumstances that are taking them away. Look at the opportunities and challenges and wish them all the best for future success.
- Present the gift – finish by presenting the gift that will serve as a token of thanks and remembrance.
Note: Not every one of these thoughts are going to be appropriate every time. If the employee is leaving because of corporate reorganization, you’ll probably omit the “why are they leaving” question. If the employee leaving is one of those who create more than their share of office conflict, try and frame your remarks from a personal perspective, rather than giving a false-positive picture of a warm and fuzzy workplace relationship.
Whether you’re saying a short goodbye to a volunteer coach in a youth league or making a major presentation at the retirement of a long-term employee, a farewell speech should bring conclusion and tribute for those leaving and those staying behind. A template like this will help you cover the points you need to consider when saying goodbye.
When considering what type of visual representation to use for your data or ideas, there are some rules of thumb to consider:
1. Use visuals sparingly. One of the biggest problems in presentations is the overuse of visuals. A useful rule of thumb is one visual for every two minutes of presentation time.
2. Use visuals pictorially. Graphs, pictures of equipment, flow charts, etc., all give the viewer an insight that would require many words or columns of numbers.
3. Present one key point per visual. Keep the focus of the visual simple and clear. Presenting more than one main idea per visual can detract from the impact.
4. Make text and numbers legible. Minimum font size for most room set-ups is 18 pt. Can you read everything? if not, make it larger. Highlight the areas of charts where you want the audience to focus.
5. Use colour carefully. Use no more than 3-4 colours per visual to avoid a rainbow effect. Colours used should contrast with each other to provide optimum visibility. For example, a dark blue background with light yellow letters or numbers. Avoid patterns in colour presentations; they are difficult to distinguish.
6. Make visuals big enough to see. Walk to the last row where people will be sitting and make sure that everything on the visual can be seen clearly.
7. Graph data. Whenever possible avoid tabular data in favour of graphs. Graphs allow the viewer to picture the information and data in a way that numbers alone can’t do.
8. Make pictures and diagrams easy to see. Too often pictures and diagrams are difficult to see from a distance. The best way to check is to view it from the back of the room where the audience will be. Be careful that labels inside the diagrams are legible from the back row also.
9. Make visuals attractive. If using colour, use high contrast such as yellow on black or yellow on dark blue. Avoid clutter and work for simplicity and clarity.
10. Avoid miscellaneous visuals, If something can be stated simply and verbally, such as the title of a presentation, there is no need for a visual.
Most of my YouTube or television watching centres around cooking; not shows like Food Network challenges, Top Chef or Guy’s Grocery Games. Rather, I enjoy the shows where the hosts demonstrate the preparation of specific dishes. I want to watch Tyler Florence prepare Chicken Paillard or Micheal Smith make no-knead bread and then try the recipe myself.
That’s the essence of a demonstration speech. You demonstrate an
activity and then get your audience committed to trying the activity.
A demonstration speech is the “how to” of public speaking. It
can be more difficult to present than any other type of speech. If something
goes wrong, it can slow down the entire speech or bring it to a halt. While the
fundamentals of preparing and giving any good speech are important, there are
additional considerations for the demonstration speech.
When preparing and presenting a demonstration speech, you need
to think like a Food Network Star.
Know Your Topic
They don’t pick just any old person off the street to host a
cooking show; unless it’s the street where Giada lives. The chefs and cooks demonstrating
the techniques have established themselves in the food-service industry. In
some cases, they are among the finest chefs in the world. They know their
The most important element of giving a demonstration speech is
choosing a topic you know well. The success of your demonstration speech will
hinge on your ability to perform the activity you are demonstrating.
Prepare Your Material
that if Mario
Batali is preparing Zabaglione, he’s going to reach into the
fridge and pull out as many eggs as he needs. You also know he is not going to
stop mid-demonstration and say, “I’m out of olive oil.” Not only do they have
all the ingredients they need, but the ingredients are “mise en place” everything
prepped and in place.
Once you have outlined your demonstration speech, prepare the materials. It’s important to gather all the materials and visual aids you will need and practice with them in advance.
to Your Needs
television chef prepares a dish that requires several hours to complete, the
show doesn’t get any longer. You’re shown how to make the marinade, then the
steaks go into the marinade and into the fridge overnight. Conveniently, the
fridge contains a pan with already-marinated steaks, ready for the next step.
If you are demonstrating a process with steps requiring “waiting
time”, be sure to bring examples of the project at each stage in the process.
Can’t Show, Tell
Alton Brown is the master of this step, on the show Good Eats. He may not be able to show you gluten developing in bread dough, but he’s got three puppets, one chalkboard and a barbershop quartet to help explain the process.
If it’s impossible to demonstrate every step of your topic,
brainstorm for other ways to clearly explain the process.
Always Tell, Show
A good television chef lets the actions speak for themselves.
The chef will say, “add a chopped onion,” and we watch as the onion is chopped
and added to the pan. The chef knows when to pause and let the audience focus
on the action.
use of the pause. This gives opportunity to demonstrate the step and you can
take a breath. The audience can concentrate on what you’re doing and what they need
to do without having to concentrate on your words at the same time.
a Finished Product
the last thing you see Bobby Flay do on Boy Meets Grill?
He slices off a bit of perfectly grilled steak and eats it. We’re left with a
picture of a dish that’s so delicious and simple to make, we want to run out
and fire up the barbeque, even though it’s January and snowing.
Leave your audience with a finished product. If you’re
demonstrating a skill you expect them to use, let them see what it looks like
at the end. They are more likely to try something that they have seen
of a demonstration speech is the same as for a regular speech. It’s important
to spend time organizing your thoughts and what you want to say. However, when
preparing a demonstration speech, it’s important to remember that the
demonstration and visual parts of the presentation are the most important and
the speaking portion, while needing to be strong, should support the task which
you’re demonstrating to the audience.
Success in public speaking can open a world of opportunity for you. It can broaden your horizons through personal development, influence, and advances in your profession.
Public Speaking Influences Your Personal Development
In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-worth ranks highest. Giving speeches helps us realize self-worth through the satisfaction experienced when a good speech is given. We become more confident, especially when the audience responds positively. It also reduces anxiety when asked by an authority to speak in front of people.
There was a student who dropped a course five times because he hated speaking in front of the class. After some self-study on building confidence, he decided to give public speaking a try and was successful. He came to enjoy the experience and even volunteered to give more speeches.
Using public speaking tools such as research, conceptualization, and organization, you have a systematic and effective way of presenting your ideas. With this experience, you will be better able to express yourself. You will also become more open to other people.
Public speaking satisfies your sense of achievement when the audience accepts you warmly. This reflects your level of communication skills and acumen. All these contribute to your self-esteem.
Public Speaking Influences Your Society
It is not only you who can benefit from the art of public speaking, but society as well. Governments and local organizations listen to the voice of their members. With proper communication skills, you can represent the public in voicing your rights and opinions.
An example of this would be community discussion. When a neighborhood holds regular meetings, it discusses issues or courses of action. In the discussion, opinions are expressed. Those with strong speaking skills have an advantage in communicating their opinion.
People from all walks of life need to speak in public, whether formally or otherwise: students reciting in school; folks in a town meeting; citizens voicing national issues. There is no easy way to avoid public speaking.
Public Speaking Influences Your Professional Development
Public speaking can help in your career. We tend to think of success as measured by how long you have been in your job or educational qualifications. However, research shows, one of the best indicator of success in any profession is how often a person is asked to give speeches. Those who give more speeches tend to have higher salaries than those who give less or no speeches.
Take this average engineer. She enrolls in a public speaking seminar that teaches two hours a week for six weeks. After two months, she is promoted to senior engineer. Her boss has been noticing her superb presentations.
The longer you work for an organization and the higher you climb the organizational ladder, the more your boss will ask you to preside over meetings and to give talks to the staff and subordinates or the clients. The higher your position, the more your responsibilities in leading people under you; and the more you must speak effectively.
A manager once said, “From the chairman of the board to the assistant manager of the most obscure department, nearly everyone in business speaks in public or makes a speech at some time or the other.”
It ’s not just big organizations and companies, small organizations and businesses also need staff who are good public speakers. If the high school is not persuasive enough to tell the school board that new gym equipment is needed, the athletes might have to make do with the old equipment. If salespeople cannot explain their products with a convincing sales pitch, fewer people will buy the products. This is true for nurses, doctors, firemen, police personnel and other professions.
Whatever you do, your capacity and capabilities can be improved through effective public speaking skills.