The 5 Immutable Laws of Public Speaking
- Be Clear On The Message – Often times, a speaker will focus on what to say to impress the audience instead of the message that he/she wishes to share. When the message is of value and of benefit to the audience, you will make an impact. There are so many techniques that you can learn on presenting. Just do a simple search on the Internet and you will be able to download tons of materials on techniques but the real power is in the message. What is it that you want to share? How will your message and content add value to the audience?
There is always a message behind a presentation. When the message has meaning, is relevant to the audience, adds value, touches the heart, is sincere and comes from a place of contribution, you will influence your audience and your presentation will not only be memorable but highly effective.
- Trust Your Knowledge and Expertise – If you are asked to speak on a topic, obviously you must be an expert on the topic. If you are not, then you better become an expert fast or decline to speak. You must also be completely assured on the fact that you know your subject inside out and given any other opportunity, (when not in front of a group or large audience) you speak very eloquently, knowledgably and convincingly on the topic. So the key is to transfer this to the stage.
You know your subject inside out, trust that you know your content and do not let intimidation of who’s in the audience or what people may think to distract you from your expertise.
- Do Not Compete With A PowerPoint Presentation – I’ve seen enough of presentations that were devastated by the ghastly modern tool we call “PowerPoint” that I now encourage ALL the participants who go through my training to let it go completely, if possible.
Among the many downsides of using PowerPoint, 95% of the time there will be a technical error which interrupts the flow of your presentation and makes for a very awkward opening. If you must use a PowerPoint, if it is required within corporate guidelines and you must use it to show graphs, etc, then use it wisely.
Make PowerPoint YOUR TOOL and not the other way around. Turn it off when you are speaking and only turn it on to show the graphs or images. As a speaker, you will be lost when competing with a screen that shows text that you read while positioned to the side, and often in the dark!
- Drink Water and Breathe! – Incredibly simple and people often underestimate the importance of hydration and breathing for a presentation. It’s amazing how people will eat a big lunch or have alcohol before a presentation. Sometimes when I am presenting, I may go the entire day without food and just drink water for energy. Food, especially starchy food, can weigh your body down and affect your energy levels.
I am not suggesting you fast but rather, eat light meals the day before a presentation and avoid caffeine. Breathing and drinking water sends energy to the brain and will keep you fresh and alert for your presentation.
- Preparation, Preparation, Preparation – Practicing, rehearsing, preparing until you master your presentation will do wonders for your confidence. A lot of my clients often leave it to the final hour and then I get a panic call a few days before because they have not prepared and need some last minute coaching. It’s not a pleasant feeling – that panicky feeling in the pit of the stomach just before a presentation.
To avoid this, all you need to do is to prepare. Set a schedule when you will prepare the content, fine-tune it, rehearse, and rehearse again, and rehearse again in front of a mirror and then rehearse again in front of a trial audience. You get the picture? It takes a lot of practice to master the skill. Make the time and you will never be left with the panicky feeling again.
Cecilia Yeung specializes in sales development, communication & presentation skills, leadership training and customized facilitation processes. She is based in Hong Kong and has worked extensively in 12 countries across Asia Pacific.