They say speaking is an Art, I say speaking is a science. A good speaking is combination of various basic rules. We can deliver a good speaking on applying basic rules collectively.
I have been attending many presentations on various topics from different speaker. I found some of them extremely entertaining and interactive and for some of presentation 1 hrs. was equivalent to 10 hrs. I learnt from various good speakers and in this post trying to consolidate my learning in 5 basic rules of speaking. Rules evolves by time so the rules of speaking. However let us see my five basic rules of an effective speaking.
Rule # 1: Complete in Time
I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time: Blaise Pascal
If time is money then completing a task in given time is efficiency. It shows that you have successfully planned your work to execute them in time.
- You have worked hard for this presentation.
- You have spent sleepless nights to create 100 slides for 60 minutes presentation.
- You are expert of this particular topic and you want to share all your expertise with audience.
- All topic of yours presentation are very important
Although all of above data points are very important but not more than time assigned to you. Completing in time is most important attribute of any speaker. If you do not complete in time then
- You negatively impact overall time table of the day
- You are creating an enemy in next speaker after you.
- Even though you are best speaker of the universe there are chances that few among audience did not like your session and they are waiting for your session to get over. By not completing in time you are not doing justice with them
Last but not least not able to complete in time shows your inability to plan and execute. It also suggests that you do not respect time of others. So make sure that you plan such that you can execute your speaking in assigned time to you. I count completing in time most important factor of good speaking and very vital attitude of a good speaker.
Rule # 2: Know your Audience
Every products have their target buyer, every movies have their target viewers, and every books have their target readers hence your session also has a target audience. If there is expectation disparity between buyers and product then very likely product would fail in the market. For a successful book, author’s imagination should be in line with the reader’s imagination. So success of your session depends on how much you know your audience while presenting.
This rule is very simple,
- Your audience should be able to understand what you are saying.
- Depth of your talk should be in par with level of your audience.
- You should able to increase or decrease difficulty level of your topic on the fly.
There are various ways you can know your audience,
- Conduct a poll on whether audience is interested to listen level 100 or level 400.
- In beginning of session ask some basic questions on the topic you are presenting. See how many hands are being raised to answer those questions and then get a sense of the audience.
- Last but not least best method to see mood of audience by reading their faces. If you find blank faces while presenting then you may decrease the difficulty level of presentation.
I find knowing audience is another vital aspect of good speaking. You need to be agile and you should able to change perception about your audience on basis of responses you see while presenting. You should able to change pace of presentation on audience response. To be on the same page with audience as speaker is another basic and important attribute of a good speaker.
Rule # 3: Know the Subject
Knowledge is power: Francis Bacon
Prepare, prepare and prepare is the key of successful and meaningful presentation. Without knowledge on subject in front of audience you will be epitome of an army without arms in front of enemy force.
Rule is not prepare hard rather prepare in smart way. Your preparation should be evident in your talk. You need to make sure of the following points
- Make sure you have tested all demo in dry run
- Make sure you have rehearsed your story for each slides
- Make sure you know how to use various zoom in tools
- Make sure there is a story line in your presentation
- Make sure not to use big jargon while presenting
How easily you are presenting topic reflects amount of preparation you have done. Better preparation will help you to complete in time as well. Preparation will give you optimum confidence to be in front of audience. Hence I consider it one of the most vital factor of good speaking.
Rule # 4: Mind your Body Language and Dress code
Sometime your body language speaks louder than the words. What you are depicting from your body language is as important as what you are speaking from mouth. People hear what you say but they see what you show.
While presenting wearing a pleasant dress is always a benefit. Make sure
- You are not wearing party dress while presenting
- You are not wearing belt with bizarre buckles. For example once I was attending a presentation and speaker was wearing Playboy belt. He was subject of fun on that event day.
- Do not try hard to look different while presenting.
- Make sure you have control on your hand movement. Avoid putting them in your trouser pockets or moving them too fast.
- Avoid showing your back to audience
- Do not show that you are from some different planet since you are speaker.
- Carry a light smile and if possible wear normal colors dress
Unless you are not known to audience, dress and body language does matter. I consider a positive body language with descent dressing an essential rule of effective speaking.
Rule # 5: Add some Fun
“If you don’t like me, why do you waste your time making fun of me? “
I am sure you like yourself and you want people to like you too. Usually people like funny people. In normal scenario people like to laugh. People laughing together are emotionally closer to each other and there are less chances that they would judge each other. To avoid harsh judgment of yourself and your presentation make sure that you and your audience are laughing with each other.
There are many ways you can make your audience laugh,
- Start with a joke on yourself
- Start with a funny story
- Keep smiling while presenting
- Praise few among audience with some flavor of light fun. For example you can say hey you are wearing a nice shirt etc.
- Start with discussion of some funny scene of a popular story or book
I have seen many speakers start their presentation with negative statements like following,
- I have not prepared for this session so my demo may fail
- I have not got sufficient time to prepare
- I have only 30 minutes and I afraid to complete in time
- This topic is very hard so give full attention
- I do not like this city etc.
You should avoid using negative statements. By saying that you have not got time to prepare for that particular session you are disregarding audience and conveying a message that session being presented by you was not that important to you.
Idea is very simple entertain your audience with sweetness of knowledge transfer. Leave everyone with filled mind and smiling face.
As I said in beginning of this post that rules evolves. So the rules of speaking. There are many other small factors we need to take care while presenting. In other post I will discuss other important factors. I hope you find this post useful. Hope to see you soon presenting an effective session.