Many speakers feel that delivering an effective presentation to 20 or 200 people can be difficult. Listeners have better access to information, and many times speakers feel like they are being tested and criticized as they present their material. Thus, listeners expect more content from their speakers today. In addition, because of the entertainment frenzy in the media, audiences want a presentation with animation, humour and pizzaz.
If you’re a beginner speaker or an experienced one, you may be struggling with crippling fear because of how you perceive the audience will receive your message. Here are a few tips to help dispel some of your fears.
1. Start your presentation with something that will grab the audience’s attention. This can be a startling statement or question. Listeners will pay closer attention.
2. Be energetic in your delivery. Speak with different tones. Slow down for dramatic emphasis and speed up to show excitement. Pause occasionally for effect. Also, don’t just stand behind the lectern but move around the room.
3. Tie points together with effective transitions. These could be signposts such as first, second, or finally. Or, it can be an internal summary of what you would like to present.
4. Look directly at the audience when you speak. If it’s a small audience, you can look at each person in a short period of time. If it is a large group, look at the audience in small clumps and move from one clump to another.
5. Include a ‘wow’ factor in your speech. It could be a story, a dramatic point, an unusual statistic, or an effective visual. With a “Wow” factor, you will have something to look forward to in your speech which will impact your audience.
6. Consider using humour in your presentation. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a comedian. But it means that you should add a short humorous story about yourself or someone else to add emphasis at some point in the presentation.
7. Leave the audience with something to think about. There is nothing better than to have an audience that will stick around and talk to you and each other at the end of a presentation.
By following these tips, you could be an effective speaker, and look forward to your next speaking engagement. Just remember, you always know more than your audience because they have absolutely no idea exactly what you will be talking about. That’s a reason to hold your head up high and smile.
Irene S. Roth