01 May 2010


Overview of Public Speech
In today’s business and social climate, no matter how effective you are in your particular area, or how innovative your ideas - your results will be largely determined by how well you communicate. The ability to communicate effectively is a vital skill in the business world and the community at large. A person who can speak and present clearly and persuasively has a unique advantage over one who cannot.

Is a good speaker born or made?
Good public speakers and presenters are not born with that ability – it really is simply the disciplined application of skills and knowledge. Speaking in public is a cause of great anxiety to many people - and unfortunately for those people their business success is often dependent upon their ability to present information in an interesting, informative and persuasive manner. There are no shortcuts to becoming a competent speaker. However, the good news is that it can be learned; it really is a matter of applying skills and knowledge.

How do we learn?
There are many ways of looking at the steps involved in the process of learning a new skill. Most of the things we do in life are ‘learned behaviours’ - our nervous reaction to speaking in public is a ‘learned behaviour’ (we aren’t born with a fear of public speaking). And for most of us that means we have to ‘unlearn’ the old negative behaviour patterns and relearn new positive behaviours.
The life cycle of a speech
Depending on the circumstances, the life cycle of your speech may be 5 minutes or 5 months. You just have to be a lot quicker when you are given very little notice – and there are some techniques to help you develop an effective speech in a very short time. However, regardless of the time available, the following steps apply in all cases …
• The ‘getting started’ step will make sure you are very clear on the purpose of your speech, and make sure your approach is appropriate for the audience.
• The ‘development’ step is where you plan, develop and practise your speech.
• The ‘delivery’ step – this is where you ‘do it’ – you deliver your speech.
• The ‘review’ step is where you learn from your speech - however, we have to ‘do it’ before we can ‘review it’ - so let’s start working through the ‘life cycle’ ….

Hints and tips for effective public speaking

Here are just a few hints, public speaking tips and techniques to help you develop your skills and become far more effective as a public speaker. Mistakes are all right. Recovering from mistakes make you appear more human. Good recovery puts your audience at ease - they identify with you more.
Tell jokes if you're good at telling jokes. If you aren't good, best to leave the jokes behind. There's nothing worse than a punch line that has no punch. Gentle humour is good in place of jokes. Self-deprecation is good, but try not to lay it on too thick.

Tell stories
Stories make you a real person not just a deliverer of information. Use personal experiences to bring your material to life. No matter how dry your material is, you can always find a way to humanise it. How to use the public speaking environment Try not to get stuck in one place. Use all the space that's available to you. Move around. One way to do this is to leave your notes in one place and move to another. If your space is confined (say a meeting room or even presenting at a table) use stronger body language to convey your message.
Speak to your audience not your slides. Your slides are there to support you not the other way around. Ideally, slides should be graphics and not words (people read faster than they hear and will be impatient for you to get to the next point).
If all the technology on offer fails, it's still you they've come to hear. You can learn to enjoy public speaking and become far more effective at standing in front of a group of people and delivering a potent message. When it comes to improving your public speaking skills we have three words: practise, practise, practise!