Sunday, September 28, 2008

Public-Speaking Tips

For a downloadable copy of communication/public speaking tips courtesy of GSSB mentor Marjorie Ratel, please click here. This is based on Marjorie's presentation at the GSSB March 7th, 2009 Knowledge-Exchange session.

Tailor your presentation to your audience

Thanks to Kristi Kenyon

Tailoring You Presentation to Your Audience
Every talk you give should be slightly different. Do I mean rewrite your talk every time? No!
But even one sentence linking it to your audience can make a difference:
- "As teachers you may find it interesting to know that..." (in Education class)
- "You may have heard about this in the news recently..."

Different Learning Styles
Recognize that people are diverse and have both different interests and learning styles. Some people are visual learners, some auditory, some verbal, etc. Keep this in mind when you prepare your presentations. Possible elements you may want to consider including:
-sound, music, pictures, things to pass around
-geography, history, pop culture (newspapers, famous people)
-statistics/stories (use both, use stories to illustrate statistics)
-points to ponder (some people want to go home with something to wonder about)
-some people want to go home with a good story
-some people want to go home with something they know they can do to help

Keeping Them Interested
"I'm really passionate about this topic and I'm happy to have this opportunity."
Psych yourself up! If you're excited and interested, its contagious - however, if you look bored, they will too.
Keep these actions in mind and work on incorporating them into your presentations:
-eye contact
-look around the room
-ask questions
-put yourself in your story, we want to know who you are
(Remember: NO ONE SEES YOUR NOTES BUT YOU – you can write things like 'LOOK UP', SMILE, SOUND EXCITED, PAUSE, etc.)

Adaptation and Flexibility
What will you do if. . .
-you are presenting at a Rotary club and they run over time leaving you only 5 minutes to talk?
-power point doesn't work?
-your audience has difficulty with English?
-you audience is elementary school students? Or engineers?
-you were supposed to be one of two speakers but the other one cancelled, so you now have too much time?
-the more you think about prepare for "disaster" scenarios, the less disastrous they will be
-have a few "skip" points in your presentation (in case you are running out of time, or, conversely, you need more time to fill) as well as false endings (points where you can cut off your presentation without leaving it hanging)
-ask questions: technical questions, audience questions, number of people, etc. – know who your audience is and tailor your questions to them (Lillian is a key information source here)
-always have a hard copy (print out slides or notes so if you have to go without you can)
-at UBC there's wifi so you can email your presentation to yourself in addition to having it on a memory stick
-if you are presenting on a topic where people have strong feelings, think of the main objections or questions that may come up and think ahead about how to deal with them
-value your audience and find a way to see them as part of the solution
-The more you think about your presentation before hand, the more comfortable you will be delivering it and dealing with the little unexpected bits that come up
Just to reiterate. . .
-tailor your language, slides, questions, jokes, etc. to your audience
-consider different interests and learning styles
-keep yourself interested, and them interested - adapt and be flexible

Silicon Valley Tips for Great Presentations

Thanks to Jim DeLaHunt
Public-speaking tips available at

Tips for Overcoming Nervousness (from Walter Gage Toastmasters):
  1. Don't apologize
  2. Don't write and memorize your speech word for word - spontaneity adds character!
  3. Focus more on the topic and the audience
  4. Show up early - get a feel for the setting, audience and equipment
  5. Take a few deep breaths - nervousness leads to shallow breaths and people tend to speed up - when this start, take a few deep breaths and continue
  6. Look for a friendly face - smiling helps!
  7. Drop your hands - this is the most natural gesture; use more purposeful gestures when needed
  8. Speak only on topics on which you are an expert - you are qualified because of your experience! Be casual, as though you are talking to your best friend
  9. Be excited about your topic - give your audience energy, and they will give it back to you
  10. Practice - not in front of the mirror, but in front of a loved one
  11. Relax with exercises
  12. Visualize giving the speech

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