Most professionals know public speaking is a vital business communication skill. And many spend time writing and practicing their presentations.
But, most fail to get the results they expect when they speak to a group, whether it’s their team, clients, or prospective clients.
So, here are three secrets to effective public speaking used by some of the world’s best speakers…
Breakthrough Public Speaking Secret #1: Avoid Clichéd Pleasantries to Open
Bob is introduced to the audience. He walks to the front of the room, smiles, and says, “Good morning! And thank you for that nice introduction. It’s a pleasure to be with you on this glorious morning.”
Immediately, some audience members try to sneak a quick peek at their phones. They don’t hear the next words Bob says.
Isn’t it important to be polite and show people you appreciate them?
Yes being respectful and polite is a good trait. Just don’t do it at the beginning of your speech.
Because audiences are highly distractible and more sophisticated than ever. When you open with the same words every other speaker starts with, you sound like everyone else.
And this triggers a subconscious message in the minds of your audience,
“I’ve heard this before. I don’t need to listen.”
Does this sound a bit extreme?
It’s not. Think about the reaction you have when you hear a speaker who sounds like all other presenters.
You begin losing interest. You might not consciously be aware, but you become a little more distractible and you are at risk of losing interest.
If the speaker doesn’t quickly say something different or uncommon, he’s at risk of losing his audience completely.
One secret to overcoming this problem: Open with a story. Be sure it’s related to your main topic and orients the audience to what they’re about to hear.
If you’d like more insights into storytelling, register for your complimentary 52 Storytelling Tips: https://speakingcpr.com/52-storytelling-tips/
Breakthrough Public Speaking Secret #2: Involve Your Listeners
Before the COVID pandemic, most speakers obviously spoke at live events. And generally, they would speak to their audiences, sharing their information and stories. They talked, the audience listened.
However, a select few knew the secret to creating a deeper connection with audiences and making a lasting impact. They invoked their audiences in their speeches.
After nearly two years of virtual presentations, a new dynamic has been created between speakers and audiences — people on the receiving end of your message no longer want to passively sit and listen. They have been conditioned to become more involved in presentations.
They’ve been asked for their opinions in chat boxes, they’ve been sent to break-out rooms, and they’ve been encouraged to talk on camera.
In other words, they’ve come to expect to be part of the experience.
One secret to overcoming this problem is: Use technology to ask specific poll questions. This allows your audience to participate, gives them a forum for their voices and opinions to be heard.
And it also gives you valuable feedback to let you know which part of your presentation resonates with them and which part needs to be adjusted.
Breakthrough Public Speaking Secret #3: Avoid Information Overload
You’re listening to a speaker, she’s entertaining and provides excellent insight into her topic.
But, then you realize you can’t absorb any more information. She shared so many stories and data and graphs that your head is starting to hurt.
Unfortunately, this scene is too common. Speakers provide too much information in a short amount of time.
Why does this happen?
One of two reasons:
1. The speaker is so enthusiastic about her topic she wants to share as much as she can to help you.
2. The speaker is insecure and wants to prove to her audience she belongs up at the front of the room. She believes the best way to do this is to provide as much information as possible to prove she knows what she’s talking about.
In each case, the speaker is well-meaning. But, she is not serving her audience. Chances are she’s not even paying attention to their reactions.
Most people are familiar with the concept of The Point of Diminishing Returns. Too many speakers are doing this to their audiences.
One secret to overcoming this problem: Employ the 10:1 Rule. The states that for every 10 minutes of speaking time, you present one (and only one) key point to your audience.
You can support this point with a short story, a case study, or relevant information, research, or data.
If I’m speaking to a group about speaking skills, and I’ve been given 30 minutes to talk, I’ll give at most three points, perhaps…
- The importance of creating a positive speaking mindset.
- Why you need a foundational concept.
- Why you should avoid falling into “speaker mode.”
These three sub-points are enough for the audience to digest, but not so much that they walk away feeling like they’re stuffed with too much information.
If you’d like more insights into public speaking skills or have questions about your presentations, feel free to check out Speaking CPR’s video series about public speaking, https://bit.ly/YouTubeStopBoring.