Overview: The Paradox of Public Speaking
Your goal: be convincing/compelling … with zero notes.
You want your comments to feel as personally authentic as possible … while effectively and credibly achieving a specific impact.
At the heart of your presentation: the key take-away
The number one question for any communication: what is the single most important Take- away you want to leave in the minds of your audience?
That’s what you need to keep in mind as you structure the framework discussed below.
You should also have in mind a desired length of time not to exceed … and then be sure that you design your message, or content flow, so it can comfortably and appropriately be delivered within that constraint.
As part of determining your key Take-away, consider the audience mindset:
- What is their mindset before you say Word One?
- What is the mindset you want to leave them with at the end?
- And/or the thought or knowledge you wish to implant?
Think Through Your Framework
The more natural your remarks can feel as you deliver them, the more convincing you will be and the more authentic your audience will feel that you are.
That makes your framework … the thought structure of your remarks … significantly more important than in a scripted speech, in which there are carefully planned transitions, with every word already chosen.
You want your thought structure, your framework, to help you be as effortless as possible in remembering your message, as you speak with no notes. (Or, if necessary for you, an Index card with the “flow” of your remarks to remind you.)
Organize your content ahead of time so that “A” flows naturally into “B” – again for you, personally. “A” makes you think of “B”, and “B” leads you to “C”, etc.
If you structure your message flow in a way that makes sense to you, you’ll be much less likely to wonder, in front of an audience, what you’re supposed to be saying next!
The more naturally your remarks flow structurally – for your particular way of thinking — the more effortlessly and automatically you’ll know what to say, moment by moment, when you are LIVE, under pressure.
Beginnings and Endings
As is always true in a presentation, beginnings and endings are especially important as your first and last chance to make an impact on your audience.
Think through what kind of “mood” you want your opening and your closing each to convey. What is the “journey” (even a very brief one!) you want your audience?
Then plan your content accordingly.
Away from the Podium & Center Stage
If your talk is meant to be heart-to-heart, ‘real’ … then you certainly don’t want to stand behind a podium.
Stand center stage and be sure that, as you talk, you address your remarks and your attention to every corner of the room. No wandering! Stand in one place, even as you turn your body to face and take everybody in.
When you do that – just stay there and speak to us directly – you eliminate a potential distraction, and you amplify the sense of, “This person is confidently telling us the truth.”
As Always… the Quality of the Rehearsal Counts
Many of the tips that help a scripted presentation work apply to non-scripted presentations, too – including working in your mind to make every rehearsal feel like “the real thing” to you.
(Take a look, perhaps, at the Rehearsal section of the recommendations also on this site for a scripted presentation.)
Don’t hassle yourself if, each time you rehearse – or when you deliver it to an audience – your phrases come out slightly different each time. That is real, spontaneous life-in-the- moment.
The overall guidance is …
- Have you thought through your message ahead of time?
- Do you know its flow?
- Does it address the audience mindset (starting and finish?) Is it structured to help you stay within your time guidelines.
If the answers are, “Yes!”, then just deliver your remarks with the full awareness that you mean them.
I promise you this — I learned it in my corporate career, and I see it over and over in action with the executives I coach: audiences want a real connection.
Whoever you really are … people want to know that it’s you who is addressing them … with your ideas, not anyone else’s … and that you truly mean what you say. So whatever your personality happens to be — from shy to exuberant — be true to yourself. Audience can smell a fake.
But always push yourself to be “bigger” on-stage — still the real … still yourself, only bigger — than you ever would consider being off-stage. And don’t rush! Take the time you need to feel what you are saying. They’ll feel it, too.
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