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Thursday, May 12, 2011

10 Tips for speaking like a “PRO”

1.     Understand your audience and prepare your remarks to meet their needs-not necessarily your own.  A story to illustrate your point allows your audience to connect to you and to remember the point.
2.     Dress appropriately to the program, organization and your topic.  As a presenter, a good rule of thumb is to be dressed one level above the audience.  If you feel good about how you look, it will translate on the stage as confidence.
3.     Check out the meeting space.  Visit the room where you will speak and test the A/V you will be using, along with the sound system.  Get comfortable before you enter the stage in front of the audience.
4.     Keep eye contact with your audience.  Using notes with key points, and not reading your speech, allows you to keep eye contact with the audience- not eye contact with your notes.
5.     Make a connection with your audience by stepping away from the podium and engage by using body language.
6.     Turn nervous energy into an enthusiastic delivery.  Approach the stage, pause and take a relaxing breath, make eye contact with the audience and open with an impactful story that immediately captures their attention.
7.     Limit the number of points you plan to present to 3 and start each one with an illustrative story, hopefully, a personal one.  Do not use other people’s stories unless you plan to give them credit and have asked for permission prior to the event.
8.     Use Handouts or if you will be providing your slides, or an outline of your information on your website as a follow-up to the program, let the audience know this at the beginning so they can relax and listen instead of hurriedly taking notes.
9.     Meet/greet the audience after your speech.  Making one-on-one contact with your audience cements the initial relationship you established on the stage and adds a personal touch to your message.
10  Evaluate every performance.   Soon after exiting the stage, record notes on where you would like to improve, what you did well, and what you would change for the next event.

Jo Cavender is the president of Speakers on Healthcare and is the past president of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB).  She received the top two awards in the speaker bureau industry: the Palmer Award, for outstanding contributions to the industry; and the Dottie Walters Helping Hands Award, for dedication and support to the industry.

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