Speaking with confidence, coherence and clarity

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In business, there’s no time to lose. Grab the audience’s attention and make sure that you retain it.

The key question is – what is the purpose of your presentation? What do you want to achieve?

Do you want to inform, persuade, inspire, entertain?

Make the context crystal clear. Spend a long time considering your subject and gathering appropriate material that will punch your key messages home. How long will you be speaking for? What is your place on the speaking programme? Do you have to tie in with someone else’s contribution? The auditorium and number of guests present can have a big impact on you and your speech. Find out who’ll be there? Could they have an impact on your speaking career?

What visual aids equipment will be there? (or do you want to be there)? Know how to use it properly – and carry spares! Ensure that you know the requirments of the auditorium. Agree them up front with the organizers.

Get the sequence of your talk right. Would an agenda help? You will need a logical and ‘signposted’ structure with a definite conclusion (do not leave it in the air!). Have a strong opening with impact, something that the audience will remember long after. Similarly, the ending should be memorable. Research shows that your audience will probably remember the beginning and the ending if they are delivered convincingly.

Establish your audience’s level of knowledge by research before the event. The army has an interesting saying: ‘Good reconnaissance is never wasted.’ Ensure you adapt your presentation to their level of knowledge and interest.

Check for rapport with your audience. Are they nodding with agreement. Win them over. Smile, talk of ‘we/us’, and never talk down or patronize your audience.

Keep them awake. It’s better without a written script (unless you have to). Aim for variety of voice – word pictures can be highlighted within a long talk – visual aids, maybe (with pie charts rather than tables) or break it up with a 2-man act.

If you have any briefing materials, distribute them before the event. Or tell them at the start if they’ll get notes at the end. Be prepared for questions. Note and remember who asked the question. With Q&A sessions, always repeat the question.

If you don’t know the answer – never flannel – it will show!

There are three keys to success: preparation – preparation – preparation.

Explore all three in great detail and you will probably succeed in your assignment.

There is no substitution for preparation. Plan your structure. Don’t waste people’s time – get into it. Time is money – deliver your messages confidently http://www.collegeofpublicspeaking.co.uk

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