Public speaking seems like one of those skills you either have, or you don’t. But it can be learned. Vance Van Petten, executive director of the Producers Guild of America (and a great public speaker), has a short new book on Ten Minutes to the Speech. His tips include some basics: know the audience, touch base with the moderator, check your appearance. But there are also some bon mots I really like:
1. Smeathing: SMile while brEATHING deeply
2. Turn up your enthusiasm (amazing how few people do)
3. Open with short personal stories, questions, flattery, even video clips
4. Involve the audience (get them to stamp their feet, shake hands, whatever)
Van Petten also has tips on dealing with hecklers (don’t validate them), people who steal your thunder before you go on (don’t reiterate with your own spin) and running out of time (don’t acknowledge that; just sum up). I’d like to add my own tips: Ditch the Power Point, unless you’re flashing images or brief statements that don’t force the audience to read the screen instead of listening to you. I almost always hate sitting through extensive Power Point presentation, even when they’re accompanied by a dynamic speaker. And don’t be hard on yourself. Everyone sympathizes with you, unless you’re getting $20,000 to be there. Then you had better be good. Anyone else have tips?
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