Tag Archives: public speaking tip

Public Speaking Tip #31 The Show Must Go On

We’ve all heard the old Show Business axiom – The Show Must Go On – well it’s no different when it comes to public speaking.

There’s an old saying in show business – ‘The Show must go on.’
In essence it means, no matter what has befallen a production whatever has happened, the performance goes ahead.
Anyone who has worked on radio or television will tell you the same thing. You might be feeling wretched with a headache or had a major argument with your partner, but you carry on with your ‘performance’ as if nothing is wrong.
The theory is the audience have paid their money, or switched you on in the case of radio and TV, and they deserve your best – no excuses accepted.
The same goes if you’ve agreed to a public speaking engagement. A fight with the boss or crashing your car makes no difference. As long as you’re physically able ‘The Show must go on.’
Whatever you do though don’t share your problems with your audience. A. They didn’t turn up to hear your woes. B.They won’t care anyway and why should they?
You are there to perform, educate and entertain and if you really want to make it as a public speaker – Just Do It!
Now if you really know your subject and have practiced many, many, many times you should be able to deliver a compelling speech, and for the time you are on stage put your problems on hold.
Adopting that mindset you can compartmentalise your private life from your public life. In fact it might just give you a much needed break from your pressing issues.
The end result might not be your best performance but don’t beat yourself up over it. You had a reason to be slightly off your game. It’s just it’s not something to be shared with an audience.
I remember a former AFL coach saying a really good player is not one who plays a handful of exceptional games each season and mediocre ones for the rest. A really good player is one who narrows the margin between his worst  games and his best games.
Same goes for public speaking – a great performance followed by a string of meh!! performances won’t see you climb the public speaking ladder. Make sure your worst performance is not much below your best.
You can’t control every aspect of your life, the unexpected will happen and usually at the worst possible time.
But when it comes to public speaking your regular preparation, rehearsal and practice will ensure that even in the worst circumstances you will be able to give a presentation you can be proud of.
Remember – The Show must go on!


Public Speaking Tip #30 The Dreaded Q and A

Many speakers put hours of preparation into their talk and barely give a moments thought to the Q and A. A big mistake.

A brilliantly crafted and presented public speech can be brought undone by the Q and A session at the end.

While it is vital to focus on the body of your speech – under prepare for the Q and A at your peril.

It’s also often the most feared part of a speech but it doesn’t have to be that way.

With the right amount of preparation and practice the Q and A can be the icing on the cake but there are a number of things you need to do to make sure your session runs seamlessly.

Firstly, prepare and rehearse the types of questions you’re likely to get – get a friend to listen to your speech and then ask you questions about it.

Be warm – many speakers who’’d earlier engaged with the audience during the presentation, cool noticeably fearing the worst from the Q and A. The goodwill you built up is lost immediately. So begin the Q and A with a warm smile, show you are looking forward to answering their questions.

Have some questions ready if the audience is slow to get involved – “I’m often asked…..

Listen closely to each question and before answering repeat the question so all your audience know what it is – repeating the Q also gives you time to formulate your answer.

Be interested and receptive even if the question may seem out of place – show your questioners respect and never be dismissive.

Admit it when you don’t know the answer – don’t wing it -you’ll always be found out – say I’m sorry that question is outside the parameters of my research/knowledge but I will find out for you

Keep your sense of humour – If a question comes out of left field that throws you but draws a laugh from the audience join in. Being the butt of a light hearted comment will endear you to the crowd.

Time – Always be aware of the time remaining. It’s very poor form to run over time as there maybe other speakers or sessions that will run late.

Leave a minute at the end to wrap up the session with two or three sentences that encapsulate your talk and perhaps a Call to action. “So remember we can all make a difference when we go out to vote on Saturday.” or Make sure you do you bit for the environment

Remember the Q and A session comes at the end of a presentation, how you perform during that time will have a lasting impact on the listeners. So you must work to end on a high note and make a final, positive impression on the audience.

With enough practice the Q and A could be one of the highlights of your presentation.


Public Speaking Tip #29 Ask Yourself this Question

Even before preparing your speech you must ask yourself an important question.

Before you start preparing your public speech you need to ask yourself this.

What do I want to achieve by giving my talk and what message do I want the audience to takeaway.

Without having those concepts in your mind preparing your speech will be like setting off in your car without knowing your destination – you drive around aimlessly looking for someplace you’re not sure about.

Likewise not knowing what you want to achieve will lead to a meandering talk with no impact or purpose and a very frustrated and confused audience

Once you have decided on the purpose and outcome of your speech you can start building the infrastructure for a compelling and passionate talk.

Remember you are at the wheel taking your audience either on a Magical mystery tour or a tour of enlightenment which one is is up to you.

If an audience has been good enough to give you their precious time make sure you respect them by giving the best talk possible and that can’t happen without a lot of research and hours of practice.

It was Mark Twain who said if you want me to speak for an hour I’m ready today. If you want me to speak for just a few minutes it will take me a few weeks to prepare.

Abraham Lincoln once said he had no time to deliver a 5 minute speech but he could go and speak for an hour at any time.

The theme being, given time we can all relate a story or build an argument but to do it in a short space time requires discipline to distill the facts ,sifting the wheat from the chaff so a short speech will contain all the ingredients of a long speech but in a more powerful compact package.
Preparing a speech is a skill in itself.

Public Speaking Tip #28 The Ear not the Eye

Writing for the ear is vastly different to writing for the eye. Keep this in mind when writing a speech.

As a young journalist an old news editor of mine once said remember radio news isn’t like reading from a news paper. If you misunderstand a paper story you can re-read the section until you understand it. Not so with the broadcast media – mishear a story and it’s lost forever.

Same with public speaking – so to my point, write for the ear not the eye. While I’m against public speakers reading out their talk there are times when reading a prepared speech is necessary.

So as you prepare your script, when you’re writing it read it out aloud progressively to hear how it sounds. A piece of writing which appears perfect when you read it in your head can sound awkward, stilted clumsy when read out aloud. The written word is always more formal than the spoken word.

While spoken language uses tone and pitch to improve understanding the written language is limited to layout and punctuation.
With the exception of formal speeches, spoken language tends to be more impromptu.

Because of that a written speech will usually be more restrictive and fail to have cut through with the audience – a written speech can appear like an invisible barrier stoping your message getting through.

Public speaking should be more conversational, even though, in the main it’s a one way conversation .

If you’re relying on reading your speech there’s no room for spontaneity, lose your place in your script and lookout.

Speaking from dot points and largely adlibbing you can take in how your audience is reacting to what you say and you can respond accordingly. Then move on to your next point.

When delivering your speech you need to use short sentences and in the main,short punchy words.
When you write an article, our language contains much more details, whereas speeches tend to have the main ideas presented in a powerful and compelling way.

It all goes to demonstrate why a speech or talk should never been seen as just standing up and reading out a written document.

If your going to just read a Pre written script why not just email it out the day before, you’ll save your audience a lot of trouble.


Public Speaking Tip #27 The Setup

Preparation for giving a speech doesn’t end until you’ve checked out the venue. Fail to do that and you could be headed for disaster.

TRANSCRIPT: No amount of preparation will be enough if you aren’t familiar with the venue where you are speaking.

Walking in cold is a sure way to push your nerve levels into over drive.

Allow time to check the venue whether it be on the day or even beforehand.

Is it a big room or a small room? The size and layout can affect the way you deliver your presentation. A small venue is more intimate and your movement and gestures should reflect that.

A large room with a bigger audience allows you to be more expansive and theatrical. Small gestures in a large hall will be lost – big hand gestures and body movements are more appropriate.

In a small venue the audience is closer they will see a half smile, rolling your eyes but in a big auditorium that would go unnoticed.

Small details, but used properly your performance will improve markedly.

While you’re there, check the stage – is there a lectern – how’s the lighting. Too late to be introduced on stage only to find there’s no lectern for your notes or the lighting is too poor to read them.

Do a mic check to make sure you can be heard at the back of the room.

A check of the setup is your responsibility – don’t rely on the organisers to have it right for you because once you’re on stage the audience will blame you, not the organisers. if you are struggling to be heard or see your notes.

Doing a location check will also give you confidence because you will be familiar with your surroundings which gives you a feeling of control and will help calm the nerves.

A good public speaker leaves nothing to chance.