Friday, November 16, 2012

Public Speaking Tips - So you 'wanna' Communicate Effectively?

Depending on your line of work, you may well be public speaking. As a Salvation Army Minister, I am constantly speaking publicly, whether it is preaching a sermon, leading a commemorative service, being the MC of a fundraiser or sharing the vision to a bunch of leaders. Effective communication is vital in every instance.
If you value the importance of good outcomes when you are speaking, then you value learning to communicate more effectively.
Here are some tips of public speaking.
Begin Confidently
I remember reading Dale Carnegie mentioning this in his book on public speaking. If you have lacked preparation or are feeling nervous, try not to stand up and say, ‘Ahh, umm... I haven’t had much sleep trying to put my thoughts together...’ What does this achieve anyway? People literally slump back in their chairs and begin to consider whether they will even listen to the next part of what you have to say. You may not feel confident, but act yourself into feeling!

Finish Strong and Actually Finish
An old preacher in front of a congregation used to use the phrase, ‘And now in conclusion...’ The problem was, it was not a conclusion! It was another point! He would then ramble for another 5 minutes! Land the plane I tell you!!
If it is appropriate sum up the points you have made and sit down. Sometimes, mirroring the first couple of sentences you began with, to conclude with, is a popular technique. Plan beforehand to finish strong, and then... finish!

Know your Audience/Demographic
Whether you are a Christian or not, you must hand it to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, for his capacity to inspire a crowd, whether small or large, with content that challenged his listeners. He would use agricultural language to communicate to farmers, fishing lingo to speak to fishermen. He would inspire scores of people through his capacity to engage with his listeners.
You must know your audience. You speak differently to a group of teenagers than to a group of business executives. You speak differently to Baby Boomers than you do to Generation X.
Understand the demographic, and know a little of your audience before public speaking.

Understand the Event
Are you called to motivate and inspire or teach and inform? Are you meant to be reflective and contemplative or are you called to rouse the crowd? See, a funeral is different to a wedding. Being the MC of a large Christmas event is different to trying to convince a bunch of investors to lay down the money.
The reason I mention this, is because some people do not get it. Maybe you do, and that’s great. I have seen too many people speak at weddings as if they’re at a funeral. You know what I am saying, right? Understand the event, and speak accordingly.
 If the event or moment calls for you to inspire people, then INSPIRE people! Get them excited! Help them believe in the cause you are communicating about! Speak with conviction and passion about the topic!

Stop Fiddling or Repeating Words Unnecessarily
If you are unsure whether you fidget while public speaking, the best options are to either have someone give you positive, yet honest feedback, or film yourself and watch it back.
I have been known to repeat words like, ‘You know?’ My wife is known to fidget with the music stand (which is holding her notes). Maybe you are exempt from this category, but many are not. You actually need to do two things. Firstly understand whether you fit this category or not, and pinpoint what you need to work on. Then secondly, which is the most difficult, is you need to become aware of it WHILE you are speaking the next time. Then while you are considering what to say next in your speech/message, you need to make a concerted effort to stop doing what you just realized you were doing! Try not to be too frazzled at this point, but simply become AWARE of your fidgeting or your repetitious words WHILE you are speaking.

For more tips of effective public speaking, here are t
wo of my popular posts on public speaking:
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