You have heard people speak long and passionately — and apparently extemporaneously. They articulate their viewpoint concisely and enthusiastically. There are no ‘ums’ and ‘ahs,’ signs that someone hasn’t fully prepared. Those seemingly ‘on-the-fly’ speakers have thought a lot about their subject matter and practiced it many times before telling their stories.
Do you want to speak that way too? Do you want your speaking engagements to feel fresh and from the heart? Here’s how:
- First, write down the three to five major points you wish to make. Don’t try to cram too much information into a short speech. You should make your main point as the lead hypothesis.
- Write down the talk you want to deliver, presenting the major points in a logical structure. Address the overall issue, make your major points and then summarize your argument. Recognize your audience and/or the location that you are in. A personal connection is an effective way to pull your listeners into your talk.
- Rehearse your presentation many times in front of a mirror or video camera, working on fluency of word and gesture. Make sure to time your speech so that it’s not too long for your time slot. Too short is better than too long! You shouldn’t memorize your presentation, just the key names, data and examples that you plan to use. If you think about it as a story, you will automatically remember the key points.
- After that rehearsal, create index cards with the major points in large lettering. Practice your speech in front of a mirror again. This time, work on pace, naturalness and eye contact. Use the same energy and voice projection you will use on the actual day. You should only glance down once for each index card.
- Finally, if you are planning to use images or technology to accompany your speech, introduce them early in the speech. And never speak about something visual before you have put it onto the screen. That’s a common mistake and it causes confusion every time.
While practicing, you shouldn’t feel that you have to rigidly constrain yourself to remembering sentences. Just remember to express the major points you want to make. Keeping your presentation short and sweet may actually elicit a desire for more – which is what you want.
John Soppe is Founder & CEO of Areté Media, creator of the MustSee Guides travel guide sharing platform where you can create, share or sell your custom self-guided tour. You can follow MustSee Guides on Twitter and Facebook.