By Subhojit Roy, Co-founder Connections PR
“Public speaking is the number one fear in America. Death is number two.”
“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” –Dale Carnegie
1 Understanding your audience
It makes the experience easier. Knowledge, age group, the numbers you shall speak to. An idea about what they would take home from the speech, helps you to prepare effectively.
2 It is important to understand your audience, whether they are experts or novices.
This will help to make a different plan and affect your study and deliberation. For beginners it is important that they understand what you are talking about for experts not repeat what they know.
3 The delivery tone will differ for smaller numbers.
Whereas for a bigger group lecture it will be a formal affair. For smaller groups you can actually make it interactive.
4 It is difficult ascertain beforehand so one has to be adaptable.
Coming to lecture an experienced set of listeners one finds a few absolute novices then one needs adapt, ask and interact as to what the audience wants.
5 Research – The better prepared you are for your speech or lecture, the better the speech will be.
It is better to be over prepared than under. When I first started I wrote everything down that I wanted to say, including jokes and quips. Many people say this is bad practice but if you are able to read it “naturally” then you can get away with this in the early stages. Only very experienced lecturers and public speakers can talk without notes. The form of these notes will be personal to you, and you should not feel pressured to use a particular method.
6 No Sweeping comments.
Be aware that any holes in your research will be noticed and questioned by someone in the audience, so to prevent any awkward moments make sure there are no holes, sweeping statements or uncertainties. Never assume “no one will notice” or “no one will ask about that”. Always assume someone will ask. Try and think of all the questions you could be asked and make sure that you have an answer.
7 If you think ”I hope no one asks me ……” you can guarantee someone will, so have an answer.
However, if you are asked a question you do not know the answer to, then do not be afraid to admit to not knowing, although you can lessen the impact of “I don’t know”, to “I haven’t researched that yet”, or “that is an interesting line of thought, which I hadn’t considered”. Better to bluff why you do know an answer rather than make something up; someone is bound to notice.
You will be given a time for your speech, sometimes these are flexible (between 10-15 minutes for example) which is good, as going over time is bad. Stick to the time allotted but you cannot rush your lecture to finish as this will affect delivery, and you do not want to be stopped before the end. Audience shall getting restless if one overshoots time allotted which can be disturbing as well as distracting for the speaker and the audience specially sessions bordering on tea breaks or lunch breaks.
9 Use the premise that 2000 words will last approximately 10 minutes talking time.
So for an hour’s speech you will need approximately 10-12000 words. it is a good guideline for the amount of information you will need. With experience it will come naturally and you need to be so pedantic with the preparation. It is always better to have more information than finish a deliberation early, looking like a novice and trying to avoid those extra minutes to avoid a Q&A. If this is a professional assignment one cannot afford to deny the opportunity to the organizers.
10 Practice and time the speech
Speak slower than you would normally in order to be heard and understood.
“Best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you’re talking about.”
1 So now that you have prepared your speech you have to do the difficult bit which is to deliver it.
The more prepared you are the easier delivery will be. There are thousands of amazing speakers out there, so do not be afraid to watch some and observe their styles. However it is essential that to be a good public speaker you have to be you.
2 Whilst every public speaker puts on a “persona” when they get on the podium it fits in with their personality.
For example if you do not joke in real life, do not do it in lectures – there is nothing worse than the “academic joke” that falls flat. If you are boisterous and lively in life then be like that when you speak. You can be professional and fun at the same time as long as it is appropriate.
3 To start with, simply concentrate on giving your speech, clearly and succinctly.
How you do this can vary. As I mentioned for my early public speaking I wrote everything out in full. Some people use index cards, with key words, or headings. However this has never worked for me. When you become more experienced you might be able to work simply with a list of headings, or key information, such as names and dates or slides as prompts.
4 You need to experiment with methods of notes, and go with what feels right for you.
A good public speaker is a confident one, so worrying about what note method you are using and whether you are going to forget something vital is not going to help. If you need everything written in full in case your mind “goes blank” then have them. There is nothing wrong with a security blanket; it will make you a better speaker if you have all eventualities covered.
5 Always read your notes before you arrive at the venue so it is fresh in your mind which will eliminate a total reliance on notes.
Also remember that you are the only one who knows EXACTLY what you intend to speak about, so if you miss something out no one else will know.
“The most precious things in speech are the pauses.”