Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Training the trainer: Tips for public speaking

Are you the leader of an upcoming presentation or training seminar? Does it make your palms sweat just thinking about speaking in front of a room full of people?

A trainer or presenter is only as good as their communication skills. Here are a few tips to overcome your public speaking jitters:
  1. Practice on small groups of people. Round up some friends or family members and practice your speech on them.
  2. Make sure you’re prepared. Do the research and know your facts. You’ll feel more confident when you know your stuff.
  3. Don’t memorize the material. Remember key topics you want to cover, and let that drive your presentation.
  4. Avoid slides. Don’t put your audience to sleep with a never-ending slide presentation. If you must have slides, use them mainly for visuals that help get your core message across.
  5. Don’t stress out. Easier said than done? Try some deep breathing and visualize a positive outcome.
  6. Make friends. Take a few minutes while people are entering the room to shake hands and personally introduce yourself to some people.
  7. Engage the audience. Incorporate two-way communication with questions and come up with a creative way for your audience to participate.
Practice some of these tips and good luck at your next presentation!

1 comment:

Bill Gruener said...

Thanks for sharing your list. All points are right on target. I want to emphasize the suggestion to reduce the number of slides. I'm a technical writer in the Boston area and am involved with the Society for Technical Communication (STC) Boston Chapter. We hold monthly dinner programs with speakers who present a variety of topics. As I read the suggestion to reduce slides, my mind drew a picture of a recent meeting where the speaker presented many, many slides and lost the audience. They couldn't decide if they should look at the speaker or furiously copy the content from the slides. The speaker saved the night by agreeing to send the slideshow to all who wanted it.

After this experience, we decided to encourage all speakers to reduce the content of their slides and agree to sending electronic copies to all participants. To save paper, we decided to no longer print handouts.

Our host and then the speaker repeats--at the beginning, during, and after the talk--one fact: the electronic version of the slideshow is available. We state to either give the speaker a business card or ask the speaker to send a copy. This updated method of distributing the slides works well. The audience, knowing they can get the slides, relax and listen to the speaker. I think everybody in the room focuses on the key topics.


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