How To Become A Professional Public Speaker

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Business speakers are only as good as their ability to communicate effectively. It does not necessarily follow that an expert on business matters has the know-how to engage, educate and entertain an audience.

Some of the world’s greatest business minds can ooze confidence and excel as practitioners of business, yet can become shivering wrecks whilst standing behind a lectern facing an unassuming and docile audience.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear from the outset ~ quality business speakers are not born with a natural ability to captivate and inform an audience. They have learnt the essential skills required for a polished public speaking performance and then practise and perfect their art.

What follows are the basics of giving a public presentation as a business speaker, together with some simple suggestions on how to acquire a noticeable air of confidence whilst presenting in public.

Firstly, as a business speaker you need not only to establish the title of your talk but also the objective of the presentation. e.g. the title may be ‘The Alpha Widget’ and the objective could be ‘To familiarise delegates with the benefits of using the Alpha Widget’.

You can establish the objective as a business speaker by simply asking ‘by the end of my presentation what would you like delegates to do or what would you prefer them to be thinking?’

Establish early how many minutes your business speaker masterpiece is expected to last.

In preparation for the task ahead clear your desk of all clutter and you are already on the road to becoming a polished business speaker admired by many.

Write the title of your talk and speech objective as a business speaker onto separate Post-its (or scrap papers), and then place them in the centre of your now cleared desk.

Carry out a brainstorming session by writing anything that comes to mind that is connected to your title or business speaker objectives onto additional Post-its and place them around your title and defined objective.

Once you have covered your desk you will then need to cull. Get rid of anything that is not central to the objectives of your presentation as a business speaker.

Take into account the amount of time that that the event organisers have set aside for your speech, and the time allocated to you, the business speaker, at the end of your talk to take questions from the audience etc.

Consider each Post-it as no more then two to three minutes in time and this will help you improve your time management skills as a business speaker.

Establish order in your business speaker presentation by separating the Post-its and creating a beginning, middle and end in your speech. The beginning might be related to what existed prior to the production of the Alpha Widget, the middle a reference to the main advantages of the new product, and the end perhaps some reference to the future benefits the delegates will achieve when they use the fantastic Alpha Widget.

Now add a Post-it or two to the very beginning of your speech introducing yourself – the business speaker to the audience, together with a brief overview of the content of your talk. (Known as the gestalt).

Add one or two Post-its thoughts at the end of your talk to act as a finale. The conclusion provided by a business speaker usually consists of little more than a brief summary of the presentation and an equally short ‘thank you for listening’ comment or an ‘any questions in the time remaining?’ type statement.

Look again at your timings as a business speaker. If you anticipate one particular Post-it needs to be allocated more than a few minutes this may mean some other Post-it(s) will need to be cut.

When you are totally satisfied and confident about the content and likely duration of your presentation produce an aide-mémoire.

The best business speakers don’t normally use notes but it is perfectly acceptable for a less experienced business speakers to use one or two index cards showing a few words, usually written in very large letter with varying colours, to act as a prompt and assist in the quick retrieval of information, if required.

Even the top, experienced business speakers rehearse, rehearse and rehearse again. Check your talk timings carefully, and know your material well.

On the day of the event, a good business speaker will arrive at the venue very early to check everything is set up and ready. If you are using slides with PowerPoint make sure they are loaded onto a computer and you understand the workings of other people’s remote devices that are used to forward and reverse a slide during the speeches.

To be effective as a business speaker don’t use more than ten words per slide. Audiences quickly get bored with too many words and always prefer meaningful pictures and illustrations to emphasis a point.

Direct your business speaker presentation to the whole audience and yet try to make each and every delegate feel as if you are addressing them as individuals. The best way to do this is by randomly looking at different sections of an audience and establishing the briefest of eye contacts with as many delegates as possible.

Build rapport as a business speaker by sharing humorous observations and create audience participation by asking the odd open question e.g. ‘Anyone been in a situation where they wished they had something like an Alpha Widget to help them out of a tricky situation?’

Talk as if people in the audience are your best friend of many years standing and they will quickly warm to you and make your job as the impressive business speaker that much easier.

Whatever you do as a business speaker don’t read, especially from your slides. Remember notes are an aide-mémoire; nothing more, and the top, very best business speakers don’t use them at all.

Don’t detract from your performance as a business speaker by trying too hard. If you have purposefully prepared, know your material, and rehearsed as I advised, you will appear that much more confidant to a grateful audience who has a thirst for knowledge.

Stop hiding behind a lectern. Stand near the front of the stage, with your legs slightly apart, displaying open arm gestures, and you will appear honest and genuine as a business speaker. (Check out short videos of quality business speakers on the Internet to better understand why I recommended this style of deportment).

If you intend to move away from the lectern make sure you are fitted with a radio mike and the lighting engineers are expecting you to move.

Vary the tone and speed of your delivery as a business speaker, and carefully watch the energy levels of your audiences, injecting humour, witty observations and the like to regain full audience attention if required.

Whatever you do, don’t get too carried away when the audience look as if they are really enjoying your skills and expert knowledge as a business speaker. When you get to the end of your allotted time say something along the lines of ‘in conclusion’ or ‘finally’ and know that, at best, you have no more than two minutes to stop and humbly accept the applause.

So in conclusion, from one business speaker to another, I wish you every success with your presentation. Business speaker John Bell has been educating and entertaining audiences for over 26 years.

You can learn more about business speaker John Bell and watch videos of him performing at his website

By visiting his site you will also have the opportunity to read some of the many testimonials he has received from delighted meeting organisers together with a ‘no obligation’ option to temporarily hold his services for your meeting.

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