Style A Speaker’s Check List

Many of you are comfortable with the basics of public speaking. You’re able to walk to the front of a room with confidence and win the trust and attention of an audience. Some of you really enjoy speaking to a group and you’re happy to persuade, inspire, or rally enthusiasm. You might also be able to take to the podium and calm your audience, to help rebuild their confidence and urge them to stay the course if, for example, results of an action plan are less than encouraging due to some unforeseen obstacle.Those who speak (or teach) regularly have a certain level of proficiency in the art. You know that Power Point slides are a way to visually emphasize certain facts for the audience and are not intended to be a crutch for the speaker. You reserve a sufficient time to rehearse your speech.Presented here are recommendations that may help you to fine-tune your presentation skills and ensure that you’ll be ready to stand and deliver when you next face an audience.

Who’s in the house and what do they want to know?All presentations are ruled by the audience and the information that is desired. That information is the purpose of your talk and it determines what you’ll present. Find out if any stakeholders whom you must persuade will be unable to attend and arrange to follow-up with them personally, if possible.Hecklers and hatersWhile researching your talk, ask the organizer if anyone in the audience might have a reason to undermine your objective and why that would be so. To neutralize expected opposition, acknowledge somewhere in the solutions section of your talk that some in the audience may have considered another recipe for resolution. Explain how your approach will likely be more effective, sustainable over the long-term, or easier and less expensive to implement, for example. Handle the matter like a sales objection, because that’s what it is.Audience sizeThe size of the audience guides your method of presentation. An audience of five is intimate and calls for a different approach —most likely more relaxed and personal— than an audience of 50. A larger audience often requires that the speaker use visuals, along with a speaking style and pacing that engages a bigger room.Does the audience know you?Friends in the house will make your job easier because you will feel more comfortable standing in front of them. If you are mostly an unknown quantity, it’s important to establish rapport with the audience early in the talk. A statement about how you understand or empathize with a priority or concern is a good ice-breaker and gives you credibility, since you agree with them.

What do you want audience members to do after your talk?Design your presentation to frame your call to action as logical, effective, beneficial and inevitable. Describe what you would like audience members, in particular the thought-leaders and decision-makers, to do on your behalf. Do you want them to donate money or time? Approve your proposal? Vote in a certain way? If you are able to make fulfilling your call to action easier for them, then do so.Thanks for reading,Kim