If you want to add polish at the podium, enjoy your speaking experience and influence your listeners’ attention, then set the presentation bar high with these 10 Speaking Resolutions!
- Begin your speech without words. Experience three seconds of silence! If you think this is crazy, think again. All communication begins from silence. On the page, it’s white space or margins; with speaking, it’s not speaking. Look (without saying anything) before you speak. Like a conductor of an orchestra, you are in charge and set the tone. Allow yourself a few seconds to connect inwardly as you look out at the crowd. Your listeners will appreciate this “verbal white space.”
- Know how you will start. Learn, (not necessarily memorize) how you will start your talk. Try on a new way of opening, i.e., a rhetorical question, striking fact, or personal story, rather than the usual, bland, “I’m So and So and I’m going to talk about “X.” Reveal yourself through an anecdote or short story that allows the audience to know you as a person and bridge this story to your focus. Commit to practicing this opening at least once, aloud, sometime before your presentation to minimize “start-up” anxiety!
- Stand still for your first two or three sentences. You will look in control, maximize your image and presence and project strength (even if you feel nervous). Reducing movement at the beginning of your talk also helps your audience to listen with focus, (btw, standing still does not mean standing stiffly).
- Build your talk around 3 ideas and limit your speech to 20 minutes. The average person remembers 3-5 ideas plus or minus 2. By batching your concepts in threes, you facilitate and sustain audience interest.
- Embrace less is more, when it comes to visual aids. Reduce text, read less and be less slide-dependent. Be able to overview your presentation highlights without a single slide!
- Hear yourself as you speak! You will become more conscious of what you say and how you say it. As a result, your self-awareness, presence and connection will grow.
- Stop worrying about your hands! Let them be! Focus on your passion and your hands will gesture in a way that is natural for you.
- Control-Alt-Delete any negative self-talk. Eliminate any judgmental inner chatter to create space for something neutral or positive.
- Refrain from running “off-stage” if you ask for questions and you don’t get any (a very awkward moment indeed). Start the question-ball rolling by saying something like, “Sometimes people ask me…….” Then answer that question and ask the audience again if they have any questions (usually they do).
- Have the final word! After the Q & A, close your presentation by reiterating your key message – what you want the audience to most remember. These will be the last words they hear, so make them clear and concise and deliver them with confidence!
If you are a professional who wants a competitive advantage, become as skilled a presenter as you are an expert in your field. It’s important, both for your message and your business. These best practices are just some of the many tips that can be found in Eileen’s book, Speaking that Connects. Eileen N. Sinett is an author, coach-consultant and keynote speaker. Her business, Eileen N. Sinett Communications, provides customized programs for leaders, executives and entrepreneurs. Among her clients are Novo Nordisk, Johnson & Johnson, and more. An active community volunteer, Eileen is Program Chair for the American Conference on Diversity, Mercer Regional Chapter. She earned a Bachelors of Science in Speech Pathology from Emerson College, and a MA in Speech Correction from Kean University. Speaking that Connects is Sinett’s unique presentation training brand, and she is currently working on speaking project called DEPTH, (Delivering Exceptional Presentations That Heal).