Source | FastCompany : Gwen Moran
Whether it’s a keynote speech for thousands or a sales meeting for a dozen, we’ve all seen speakers who keep the audience hanging on every word—and those who have their audiences counting the minutes until they can leave the room. Some folks at the front of the room are charismatic and engaging while others leave us dreading the next time we have to listen to anyone speak.
Public speaking, whether it’s on a stage or in a conference room, isn’t some magical, innate skill, says renowned speaking coach Joan Detz, author of How to Write and Give a Speech. When you look behind the curtain, you’ll see that many great speakers have similarities in how they present and perform.
“The single most important thing a great presenter does is carve out a quiet space before stepping out onto that stage or platform,” Detz says. You need some time to mentally rehearse and get ready so you’re energetic and focused instead of frazzled and distracted, she says.
Even before that, you need to spend time understanding and organizing your material, says Ruby Newell-Legner, president of the National Speakers Association and founder of 7 Star Service—a “fan experience” consultancy. The better you know your material, the freer you are to engage with the audience and be yourself. Newell-Legner pays particular attention to the first and last 30 seconds of her presentations.
“They’re deciding whether they like you or not in the first 30 and you want to plant the seed for the most important thing to put in their heads in the last 30,” she says.
The best speakers tailor their message for their audiences, Newell-Legner says. Sure, you have information that you want to get across, but why should they care? As she designs her speech or presentation, she keeps three questions in mind for after the end of the speech: