Memory

Memory is the mother of all wisdom.

Aeschylus

Public Speaking tip – Your image

Everything the audience sees of you as a speaker needs to reinforce the image you have decided to present in your speech – clothes, facial expression, stance and gesture.

At its most basic this means projecting confidence and sincerity. Unless you decide otherwise, the audience needs to know that you are comfortable with your message and believe in it.
 
If you are also using this presentation to present yourself as the face of your business, or as a candidate for a position, then take that into account as well. You need to be seen as trustworthy, competent, at ease with your material.

Speak clearly

Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

You can overcome Death by TMI (Too Much Information)

bored_audience

It’s not just PowerPoint and its misuse that can cause death to an audience’s interest. If you found yourself suffering during a presentation it was probably boredom – from a boring presenter who was not excited about his subject, from an overloaded, boring slideshow, and most assuredly from an overloaded, information packed presentation, given with no thought to your comfort, your interests or your needs.

As presenters, why do we do this? Why do we feel compelled to force too much information into our presentations?

One reason I am very familiar with is the need to showcase our knowledge. This may be as basic as a novice presenter desperate to gain credibility and kudos for their knowledge. So many of us go into public speaking thinking we need to do this to be liked and respected by the audience. Hence we construct a speech filled with as much information as we can pack into it. Unfortunately, when this is the main aim, we lose sight of the point of the speech and the needs of the audience and consequently have no clear message. And oftentimes, rather than impressing the audience, we end up annoying them. The worst-case-scenario is giving the impression that we really don’t understand the big picture or the relevance of the information. An annoyed audience and a lack of understanding of the topic are not good indicators for a successful presentation or for being rehired.

Another reason for stuffing a presentation with information may be lack of preparation. Perhaps the speaker has been called upon at the last minute. Perhaps they have had their time limit extended unexpectedly. Perhaps they have little experience in presenting. The result is an audience that simply ends up confused.

The third reason for TMI (Too much information) can be enthusiasm – enthusiasm for the subject, enthusiasm for the opportunity to share the information, enthusiasm for the chance to present. There is nothing wrong with enthusiasm. It can be a powerful engagement tool, but when it leads to an enthusiastic deluge of information, the result is not powerful engagement. The audience gets bored. Their brains signal overload and irritation sets n. The brain can really only absorb 3 points at any one time. The maximum is 7 (hence the early telephone numbers having 7 digits). Once it has to deal with much more than that, it needs to go into a different, more difficult processing mode. That’s where the irritation sets in –boredom and a desire to escape or tune out – death by TMI!

Finally there is the belief that decisions are made on rational consideration of the facts. So we give our audiences masses of facts that prove the point we are making – statistics, reports, graphs and diagrams, proof in all its forms. And they tune out. Given the indication that they are going to be subjected to too much information, they start being selective about what they remember. And that choice won’t always necessarily be the one we wanted them to make.
The answer lies in a series of decisions we need to make when we start putting together our presentations and speeches.

The first thing to decide is – what do you want your audience to do, think or feel at the end of your speech? What is the ultimate outcome you want from it? State that in one sentence so that you are laser focussed on it.

You will need to know your audience in order to do this. Always, always, always take them into account. What do they need from you? What do they want from you? What would they think was valuable about a speaker and his material? What will excite them?

So choose your outcome based on those aspects of your audience.

Then choose the points you will use to create that outcome.

Choose them based on what your audience will remember.

Choose them based on what will engage this audience.

And choose them based on the length of the speech. There should be three main points, or sections. If it is a longer presentation, then have three subdivisions of those main points. Expect to have about one main point per 10 minutes of presentation.

Then choose material to support those points that can be remembered and repeated. People buy on emotion and rationalise their decisions with logic, even if they are buying ideas. So use emotional supports as well as logical ones. Use phrases that can be repeated – by you throughout the speech and by your audience members later as prompts to memory. And aim to have one thing – just one thing – that is absolutely memorable and stands out from the whole presentation. It may be an object. It may be a story. It may be an image. But make it so graphic that it sticks in the mind of your audience long after you are finished. Make it something they will chat about afterwards. And make it something that will instantly remind them of the outcome that you wanted.

Once you have your material ready and have rehearsed, prepare for changes in the length of time available to you. If it is suddenly announced that you have extra time, have extra that you can add. If it is suddenly announced that time has been cut, know what you can cut from your material and still succeed with the presentation.

If you choose material that is suited to your audience you will maintain their attention and engagement. If you limit it to a few powerful points you will maintain their attention and engagement and you will make it easy for them to remember your material. If you add memory triggers to the mix, then your outcomes should be assured. Those are the things that will showcase your knowledge (winnowing out the important points), ensure you are prepared, communicate your enthusiasm and guarantee that your audience thinks, acts or believes what it was you wanted them to.

Author: Bronwyn Ritchie
If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, confident and sucessful, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com

Public Speaking Tips: Voice Inflection

Add personality to a public speech by emphasizing vocal inflections.

Avoid speaking in a monotone voice with tips from a communications specialist in this video.

http://bit.ly/QBsvOn

4 easy ways to practise your speaking confidence off the stage

If you are moving to build your public speaking confidence, the first thing to do is to plan what you will do over the coming weeks and months. Set yourself some goals and create a list of things to do to get to those goals – “an action plan.”

One way to break down the major goal into smaller, more achievable ones is to try out your strategies in safer environments, before you actually face an audience. For example, take note of how you conduct a conversation – with strangers in particular, maybe a shop keeper, bus conductor, or a person to whom you are introduced at a party or function. The communication and confidence strategies you find yourself using naturally can be used in your public speaking as well. And if you want to improve the communication skills and the confidence, try practicing some of the strategies you intend to use in public speaking, in those conversations. Two especially important skills to practice here are eye contact and a confident approach.

You can also use the same process when you have to leave a telephone message. It is an excellent way of speaking with a purpose, where you may be nervous of making a bad impression. You need to prepare what to say, and you need to present it in an audible, pleasant manner – just as you would for a speech or presentation. Again, here is a chance to develop things you can use again and again so that they come naturally every time.
  
You can also practise by creating voice mail messages for yourself or your workplace. Here again, the challenge is to convey a certain image – and confidence will be part of it. You can work through preparing the message, practising it and presenting it. This will develop confidence that you can use in presenting a speech.
 
Finally, find audiences on whom you can practise – the family pet first (!), then your human family or colleagues who are prepared to help. The best practice you will get is if you join a public speaking organisation. Most are excellent, but I recommend POWERtalk because that is the organisation I belong to – but at any club you will have a supportive audience, positive feedback and training to extend what you are learning from me.

Please don’t forget that everyone has setbacks and these are part of your journey to success. And remember, too, that nerves are good – channel them into producing a great presentation.

Author: Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, confident and sucessful, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com
 

Public speaking tip – arouse, focus and keep attention

The very first thing to do in any speech or presentation is to take and hold the audience’s attention – arouse it, focus it and keep it. Don’t waste your breath on the expected or the blah. If you must begin with something like “Good evening”, then make it different, or unusual. Here in Australia, we might say “G’day!” That would be unexpected. Otherwise use your voice and body language to make the greeting unusual, challenging, noticeable. Use pause here. Then use an opening that grabs the attention. You can use a question, a joke, a comment about the people or surroundings or event. You can make a statement, use a quotation, or simply use body language or gesture. But choose that opening to grab attention, to align with the audience and their needs, hopes and aspirations, and to lead into your message.
   

Explore. Dream. Discover – classic Mark Twain

I haven’t seen this for some time and as always it strikes a chord. He was so eloquent, was Mark Twain, a wonderful example, and in this case, so inspiring.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
— Mark Twain

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5 ways to persuade your audience by appealing to their social natures

It’s terribly important for most people to fit in, to belong, to be part of a group. Our clothes fashion industry depends on it, our politicians depend on it and cliques everywhere thrive on it.

I know – it’s not terribly smart to always follow the herd, but when we are not sure of ourselves or want to find out the best way to do things, we tend to find out what everyone else is doing and try it on for size.

And of course, this applies to your audiences as well.

If you want to introduce a new idea or persuade them to think, act or feel in a new way, then you can tap into this herd instinct.

People don’t want to feel an outcast because their beliefs and habits are different.

They also tend to believe that the more other people do something or believe something then the more likely it is to be true or worth doing. This is why you can use polls and survey results to support your ideas.

We also tend to have a case of “I want what she/he’s having”. We want to be like someone else who has the lifestyle we think we want. Maybe they are rich and famous, confident, a celebrity, a superstar, a guru. So if you can associate your idea or point or product with someone who is famous or a celebrity, then people are really tempted to adopt it. Celebrity endorsement is a great persuader.

Social proof is a powerful support in your efforts to persuade.

Testimonials are a fantastic way to provide social proof. If I hear somewhere that 36,000 people are listening to a speaker, then I think he must be worth hearing. If a book is outselling “Harry Potter” I should investigate it.

Those testimonials are using the power of numbers.

If people believe a testimonial comes from a neutral third party, that testimonial will be more powerful for them.

It is especially powerful if your audience believes it is coming from a person who is similar to them. If the testimonial tells about how someone overcame the same problem, or it tells how someone just like them achieved what they want it will be powerful. And of course if you tell a story about someone just like them who overcame the same problems to achieve what they want then you can sell that solution. Align yourself with your audience from the beginning of your speech and that someone can be you. Tell your own story.

If, on the other hand, you aren’t seen as an authority, yet, align yourself with someone who is. That”s why we use quotations in our speeches, to align ourselves with that other person’s wisdom and sometimes wit! If we choose someone the audience admires as an authority, then we increase our own credibility.

The final way to use the social side of your audience’s nature is to create a group. You can create a group of the whole audience, have them relating to each other, feeling that they have much in common, that they have similar problems and similar dreams. Then create emotion so that they feel that together. Crowd behaviour can be a powerful way of tipping someone over to support your idea.

I have also seen a speaker create a group within the audience. Get some indication from your audience as to who believes in a particular point you are making, or supports a particular role model you hold up. Maybe they find something easy, that the rest of the audience finds difficult. Then you can take advantage of the feeling of being left out that attacks the rest of the audience, and give them the opportunity to join the group you set up.

I know this may sound to be bordering on unethical. I have seen these methods used by the unscrupulous in ways that just made me angry and I certainly don’t want to recommend that approach. But from watching those presenters at work and then reading up on what they had done and why, I have discovered that it is something we all do, unconsciously.

If you are not using people’s social senses in your speaking, consider it, and how you can fit it into your own ethical, authentic presentation style.

Author: Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, confident and sucessful, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com