Monday, September 17, 2012

5 Tips for Public Speaking - ADD some WOW!

Recently, I bumped into a very funny comic strip by Ted Goff. The drawing contained a Speaker at the podium on stage in front of an audience. The audience was being soaked by the sprinkler system in the ceiling. The caption under the comic reads: "You're not allowed to use the sprinkler system to keep your audience awake."

When it comes to public speaking, I believe the Speaker has a responsibility to his/her audience. 

What inspired this post? Last week I attended a lunch meeting and there was a guest speaker. About 10 minutes into the speech I could hear snoring. So I looked around the room to assess the situation. Sadly, there were more people asleep than awake. There were about 50 of us in attendance and as the speaker dragged on - I found myself making mental notes about the value of an uplifting, inspiring and educational speaker.

Below are 5 ideas on how to improve your next public speaking presentation -

1. Be considerate of your audience and their time.

If you have been asked to address an audience and are given a specific time to present your ideas and thoughts – stay within those time boundaries. Nothing is worse than a boring speaker who feels like he/she has a captive audience and holds them ‘captive’ beyond the agreed time limit.

2. Prepare your presentation with the audience in mind.
Imagine yourself sitting through your own presentation. Would you find yourself bored to tears or worse – snoring? Or would you be engaged in the message? Better, try your presentation out on a friend and ask them for feedback. Don’t be offended if they brand you are boring. Consider it a gift and then revise and reinvent your presenting skills.

3. Monotone is not an option.

Record your voice and pay attention to the sound and rhythm. If you find yourself snoring and distracted – do something about it. Monotone is a sure way to put your audience to sleep in a hurry!

4. What would a Hero do?
Who is your favorite Hero? Is it Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, your Grandma, your Coach? Have someone in mind when you prepare your speech. Imagine how he or she would present the material. Most likely, they would be energetic, enthusiastic and inspiring. You can do the same. Put that additional effort into your speech and you’ll find yourself being a ‘hero’ to your audience! 

5. Leave the audience inspired!Think back to the last time you heard someone give a really inspiring speech … What was it that moved you? Was it their passion? Was it their personal stories? Did they really care about you as an audience member? Did they value your time and effort to be there? Most likely, the answer is yes to all of those questions. When it’s your turn to WOW the audience – dig deep, care about the people present and most of all leave them on a happier level than when they arrived. Even if your topic is boring – YOU can make it exciting with your energy and your commitment to empower those present.

Follow the above 5 tips and you’ll find yourself speaking more than you ever imagined.
And you won't need a sprinkler system to keep your audience awake!

Wendy Christensen is an Author, Speaker, Marketing Director and cofounder of Wiggle Like a Fish. Website:

1 comment:

Alison said...

Oh man, public speaking is one thing I really struggle with. Mostly just having the confidence to stand and speak without crying through the whole thing or having a 'nervous' voice. I did not get that family trait from my dad - my other siblings have no problem speaking all.the.time. :) Thanks for the great tips - I enjoy reading your blog and remembering the moments that make all the hard times worth it. - Alison (Sorensen)