Speech design tips:Engage your audience with these simple tips
Speech design tips: There are many things that can dilute your impact as a speaker like rushing your opening, ad-libbing your first line or close, data overload and not setting up for success.
1. Pause… smile, then start strong
Rushing your opening line makes you appear more nervous, and can reduce the impact and your ability to capture your audience’s attention. When you are introduced take a moment to pause, smile and look at your audience. Taking a moment before you speak to acknowledge your audience, suggests you are speaking to them specifically, not a one-size-fits-all canned talk.
2. Learn your open and close
Never ad-lib your opening and close. The first words out of your mouth, and the last, are vitally important. The first words out of your mouth enable you to intrigue your audience, capture their attention and set the scene for your talk. “Ladies and gentlemen” doesn’t intrigue, whereas a quote or statement relating to your talk can. The last words out of your mouth can linger in the minds of the audience after you are done, give them something to think about as they drive home (related to your speech purpose). Say your opening and close out loud two or three times to hear how they flow. If you can, test them on a small group before your talk.
3. Breathe, and give yourself a break
Don’t apologise. There are no perfect speeches. There is the speech you wrote, the one you delivered, and the one you wanted to deliver. Though you may not feel you are the best person to give the presentation (e.g. your boss asked you to speak at the last minute) but apologising before you even begin, or during the speech, just dilutes your message and may make your audience feel sorry for you.
4. Keep it simple
Don’t Overload the audience with too much data, keep it to one clear message. Have points and stories that support your key message. If your story or point does not support your key message .. cut it. If we read a book and we get lost we can page back and catch up. When we are listening to a presentation we can’t page back. Make sure your message is clear and simple enough to allow your audience to follow easily.
5. Setup for success in Speech design
- Arrive early.
- Make sure the room is set up so that you don’t block the audience’s view of the screen if you are using Power Point. Also ensure you can see the laptop or monitor screen so you do not need to turn and look at the slides.
- Try not to use a lectern unless you have to. Preferably move out from behind the lectern, or turn it to hold your notes to the side. Obstacles like tables and lecterns separate you from the audience and can reduce credibility (it may look like you are nervous or hiding).
- Give the MC a written introduction in large (24+) font to make it easy to read in dim light. Ensure the inroduction relates to your talk, not just your life story. Your introduction establishes your credibility relating to the topic. Make each word count.
- Ask the MC to get people to fill any empty chairs in the front before you start. Empty chairs can create a vacuum in front and may reduce your impact.
Remember to have fun too as you improve your Speech design.
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