Public Speaking Tips for the Theatrically TimidA couple days ago, I offered some tips on public speaking. 2 1/2 tips to be exact.

Since then, I thought of 2 more:

3. Be able to give your talk without electricity

There’s nothing more embarassing to watch than a presenter who’s completely lost without their PowerPoint slides. Stuff happens. Projectors go to sleep. Computers shut down. Organizers forget extension cords. Be prepared to give your talk without your props.

You only get a limited amount of time with an audience. Don’t blow it trying to be the IT department. Come to grips with the fact that this group will miss out on your great charts and cute slides and get on with the real reason you’re talking to them: to get them hooked on your organization’s vision.

This takes time. I know. I was shocked at how wedded I was to my Ask Without Fear! slides. But speaking without slides helped me grow in confidence and forced me to use word pictures to illustrate my talk. I found that these word pictures even made my presentations with slides more effective.

4. Ask the audience what they hope to get from the session

Worrying about filling the time for longer sessions can be nerve wracking. But if the audience is choosing to hear you speak, find out why. If you can ask them in advance, send out an email saying something like “I’m so excited about next week’s presentation. And I want to make sure it’s the best for you too. If you could leave with only one take-away from our time together, what would you want it to be?”

Now if you’re speaking to a group that is there whether you speak or note, like a Rotary club, or to a conference that doesn’t let you poll your audience, ask the organizer. Your organizer’s reputation is a bit on the line. So ask them what they think the audience wants from the talk. And ask them if there are any things you should avoid doing.

I find this helpful for paying gigs too. For some inexplicable reason, I usually am scared that I’ll run out of things to say. So on the day of the event, I ask the person who hired me: “What is more important to you: that I fill the entire time? Or that the audience has an amazing experience?”

I’ve never had a conference planner say they’d like to fill the time. But if that were more important to them, it’s good to know!

Those are the two tips I’d add to my original 2 1/2 tips. What would you add?

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