If you’re like me, you won’t believe that anyone can be a better public speaker instantly. It takes repeated practice – often for years!
At least, I used to think that. But then I read a short post by Jon Acuff, and I saw that it is possible – in one sense – to be instantly better at speaking.
The instant that Jon’s talking about is the moment when you say your opening line. As he bluntly notes:
“The beginning seals the deal or ruins everything”
In a recent post, I suggested changes you might make to this “before” slide, to make it look more professional:
That slide ended up looking like one of these “after” options:
But in that recent post, I didn’t show you how to make those changes. So that’s where this post comes in – the steps are in this 3-minute video:
Here’s a tip you might like, because it’s used by elite professional speakers. Three points about the tip are that it’s:
- Yet surprisingly effective!
Let me show you how it works…
In your talk, suppose you’re discussing the passage of time, or the steps in a process, or items in a list. At times like those, you might often gesture with a sideways movement of one or both arms (or hands, or with your whole body – depending on factors like the size of the room, how much emphasis you want to add, and so on).
If you don’t think about what you’re doing – and you don’t practise on video beforehand – you’ll likely gesture from your left to right, because that’s what feels natural to you.
Take a look at this 5-second example to see what that type of gesture looks like:
Note: If you’d like to replay the clip, please use this link to open it on another tab, because when embedded in a blog post, YouTube doesn’t support replaying a clip from the same point. (Or, you can press F5 to refresh the page, and then click the video below again.)
Do you use a slide that introduces you as a speaker? (That is, with your name, contact details such as your company logo or Twitter handle, and often your photo on it.)
There are certainly good reasons to use that sort of slide:
- When you’re presenting online, if people can’t see you, having a slide with your photo on it helps people engage with you and your message.
- Even in a big in-person venue (with no video feed showing your face), putting your photo on a slide not only helps people engage, it also helps them approach you after you’ve left the stage.
I’m betting that if you do use that sort of slide, it looks a bit like the typical example below. (If it looks quite different, I’d love to hear from you in the comment box below or via @RemotePoss on Twitter.)
If your speaker slide does look like that, this post and a later one will help you make it look far better:
- In this post, you’ll see the changes that could make your slide look much more professionally designed, so you leave the best impression on your audience.
- In a later post, you’ll find video tips that step you through making those improvements in PowerPoint.
You might be thinking:
“What’s so awful about that slide?”
And if you are, you’re right – it’s not so bad. Yet it could be a lot better.
Let me show you what I mean, and then you be the judge. (Or, try out some of the tips in this post, and then let your audiences’ feedback be the judge!)
You’ll find the following topics covered in this post:
Have you seen Allan Pease’s great TEDx talk? It’s called:
“Body language, the power is in the palm of your hands.”
As you too might feel (if you watch it, below), I found it enthralling for 2 reasons:
- The topic’s fascinating: How you routinely use your hands has strong yet subconscious effects on your dealings with other people, and even on your own feelings.
- Allan delivered the talk in a highly engaging way, with passion, humour, and audience involvement too.
You’ll find specific tips on how you can avoid some of its weaker aspects
In this post, you’ll find some of the talk’s best points picked out, plus specific tips on how you can avoid some of its weaker aspects in your own talks. In particular, parts of the talk’s opening and closing could have been stronger, so that’s where I’ll focus.
You might like to watch the talk here. Or, you can click the links later in the post to watch key parts of it.
Looking for a framework to make your talks more effective? Look no further than the “6 Ps of public speaking”. You’ll find them in a short post by Benjamin Ball, who runs a speaker coaching business in the UK, and I think they’re brilliant!
The original 6 Ps
In the table below, you’ll see those 6 Ps, with my thoughts on them. (After the table, you’ll also find a few suggestions that might make the 6 Ps even better. So as you read the list, see if you can think of any changes you’d make, too.)
This post aims to dispel 2 myths you might have heard about public speaking:
- an old, very persistent myth, and…
- a new one that seems to date from just 4 months ago.
So let’s get straight into the myth-slaying…
Have you heard people say that you convey only 7% of any talk through your words? The same people will likely say you convey much more of your message through tone (38%) and body language (55%). Well…
If anyone tells you that,
please let them know it’s nonsense!
Here’s why that’s the case…
The 7-38-55 figures come from studies by Albert Mehrabian, but his work focused on:
No doubt you’ve heard a lot about using eye contact to engage people when you present. It’s certainly one of the best ways to keep people’s attention, and to connect with them.
But do you manage to keep true eye contact for about 5 seconds or more? (By “true” eye contact, I mean with just one person at a time!) Only with such a gaze do you give enough time for a meaningful connection with that person.
If you look at them more briefly, they (and the rest of your audience) will likely feel that your eyes are flitting around the room. That’s because there’s not enough time for you to share a complete thought with the person you’re looking at.
Share a complete thought with the person you’re looking at
So check out this neat 3-minute video by presentation coach Jim Endicott (at the 2012 Presentation Summit). In the video, you’ll see a simple, natural technique for lengthening your eye contact.
Do you ever struggle with knowing what to talk about when you give a speech? Or do you want a new perspective on the value you bring as a speaker?
If so, be sure to check out this 1-hour video by Darren LaCroix, who’s now a renowned speech coach, and was the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking (in the annual contest run by Toastmasters International).
Note: If the video starts midway along the timeline, please just drag the playhead back to the start.
Also, there’s about 3 minutes of background at the start of the clip, including short parts of Darren’s acceptance after winning the world title. So if you like, by all means drag the playhead to the 3’10” mark, or skip to that point on YouTube instead.
Darren’s a great speaker, and his talk’s filled with both humour and powerful insight. In fact Patricia Fripp, former head of the National Speakers Association, is quoted as saying:
Do you want to highlight part of a photo or screenshot (or other picture) as though you’ve shone a spotlight on it? In this post, you’ll see just how to do that, with the 2nd in a short series of videos on using PowerPoint’s slide background fill option.