People often ask me for advice about that scariest of adventures: speaking in public. I recently enjoyed spending a couple of days at a wonderful conference. I gave my own talk, but what I really enjoyed was having the chance to listen to lots of other speakers. I’m not going to comment today on the content of their talks, but here are a few lessons I learned about the style of their delivery. I hope that it helps you…
- A crisp opening sentence is crucial. Same for the final sentence. However much you ad-lib your talk, don’t fluff these key moments by leaving them to waffly chance.
- Don’t say things like, “I told a couple of you this story earlier.” Just crack on with it!
- You can’t have too much humour, so long as it is funny!
- Assume that the venue will have terrible visibility. If you have key bits of text on your slides, pop em high up on the screen.
- Empathy with your audience is important.
- Telling stories is great, so long as they don’t feel too much of an affectation, or run on too long.
- (An aside to us members of the audience – turn off your ****ing phone, not because it will ring, but because you won’t be able to resist looking at it!)
- Come out from behind the lectern.
- You need changes of pace and theme, or else one hour starts to feel like a long time.
- You need a very clear hook at the start of your talk to get the audience intrigued and focused.
- Props are great.
- Need a firm thread running through your talk, even if it is hidden and subtle.
- Resist looking up at the screen all the time.
- Change the pace throughout your talk.
- Don’t read your slides. Obvious, but everyone still does it. Soooo boring!
- Address Q&A answers to the whole audience, not just to the questioner.
I hope this helps!