Positive Path Recommended Reading

How to be a Sensational Speaker
By Candy Tymson

In today's "information age" good presentation skills are essential if you want to succeed. Building rapport with your audience and keeping their interest is the key. Here are some tips to help you be a sensational speaker, every time:

1. FORGET ABOUT YOU 
There is a tendency when preparing a speech to focus on what you want to tell the audience, rather than what they want to hear. Do your research. Find out who is in the group, what level of experience they have and what they are interested to hear. A good technique is to arrive early and talk to a number of the group. Check if what you plan to say is of interest. Find out what their concerns are.

2. USE LIMITED OR NO NOTES 
What are you thinking when you see a speaker approaching the lectern adjusting pages of notes? "On no, this is going to be boring!" And they usually are! Use simple overheads, slides or computer-generated images as your prompt. You know your material - you don't need to read it. Instead build rapport by making eye contact with your audience and speaking to them, rather than at them.

3. REMEMBER THE THREE P'S OF GREAT PRESENTATIONS 
It is reported that Winston Churchill, one of the greatest speech makers, spent on average 7 hours writing and preparing every 40 minute speech. The only way to be great is to "practice, practice, practice".

4. BE FLEXIBLE 
There's a cable missing, the Powerpoint presentation doesn't work; there's a major disruption in the room next door. A true professional just carries on, using humour to build rapport with the audience - who I promise you will sympathise because it is everyone else's worst nightmare too.

5. USE A VARIETY OF VISUAL AIDES 
Even a first rate presentation can become boring if the same format is used over and over again. Add variety. Is there a prop you can use? How about a video clip? What about handing something around the audience or giving a demonstration?

6. USE STORIES AND EXAMPLES 
Everyone loves stories. I'm sure you have examples or real life stories that can illustrate your point far more effectively than just facts and figures. Develop a number of stories and use them for impact. (A key to using stories is to be sure that they have a point! They should illustrate, explain or reinforce what you are saying).

And finally, have fun! We all take ourselves far too seriously. If you are having fun so will your audience - and they will remember you. 

About the author: Candy Tymson is an expert on business communication, based in Sydney, Australia. Her latest project is a workshop, tape series and book on "Gender Games: Doing Business with the Opposite Sex". Check her website for other resources on effective communication at: www.tymson.com.au


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