Last Monday night, I emerged from my snow-clad isolation to give a presentation-skills workshop to a women’s business network in Dungarvan. The workshop gave people the opportunity to morph into crazed queue jumpers, dead celebrities and cartoon characters. But in the middle of all the mayhem, there was a serious message. Here are 10 of the tips I shared about one of the core skills of presentation – actually writing your speech.
1. The goal of communication is to figure out what you want to say and put your message across in a way that your audience will understand.
2. Once you have figured out what you want to say, preparing your presentation becomes a whole lot easier.
3. As well as deciding what to say, decide what shape your speech will take. Will it be a debate, a story, or a fund of tips and advice?
4. Create a structure that will act as your roadmap when you are writing your speech.
5. To get yourself past those nervewracking seconds before you start to speak, pick a spot, plant your feet hip width apart, look around the room and take a few deep breaths. This will anchor you and silence your audience.
6. Reel your audience in by asking them a question or sharing an anecdote.
7. Don’t be afraid to borrow from others and inspire your audience with a quote.
8. Aim for one point per paragraph/section. This avoids clutter and ensures your audience understands your message.
9. Slow down your voice as you’re coming to the end, to signal to the audience that you’re ending and to add resonance to your ending.
10. Remember that no-one really cares what you’re saying. Chances are, they’re daydreaming, thinking of their to-do list or checking their phone. This is actually quite liberating. It means they won’t notice the quake in your voice or the slide you missed.