Time to hit the stage again
I have an occasion to give a short talk to a live audience soon, and I must admit that I’m a bit nervous about it. Though I’ve been going on stage since I was three when my parents started me in dance lessons, I’m still nervous when I have to give a talk or do a presentation.
It’s been three years since I was last on stage, in November of 2019, so my skills are rusty, and I bet yours are too.
Since speaking to audiences about some aspect of your business or profession is the best marketing because you’re an instant authority when you hit that stage, it’s time to get back in the saddle and start getting out there and talking at networking meetings, to community groups or at professional development events.
Though you may not think so, it’s always good to be nervous when going on stage because it means that you’re a breathing human. Experienced actors and speakers often get the jitters or stage fright when they speak or perform. If you don’t, it means you don’t care. If you don’t care, you’re not preparing carefully enough, and you shouldn’t be speaking about your business until you’re ready to commit.
The two keys to successfully speaking to an audience and knocking their collective socks off are
- Write a speech that you can remember (talk like a Ted Talk talker – no notes). When it’s this well-structured, your audience will remember what you said, also.
- Internalize don’t memorize. If you try to memorize the whole thing, even if it’s just a 15- or 20-minute presentation, you’ll drive yourself crazy. But, more importantly, you’ll sound like an automaton – very stiff, like you’re just regurgitating it.
But you say, “I’m not a public speaker. I can’t do that.” Phewy! You can by using my formula. Breaking it down into chunks that flow together, you’ll be talking like a Ted Talk talker more easily.
My patented speech construction formula-
- You need a strong lead to get the audience’s attention.
There’s a lot of competition – cell phones, yakky neighbors, their wandering thoughts – so getting their attention is important.
An amusing anecdote, an appropriate joke, startling statistics, a quote – all good ways to begin your talk to get attention.
- Why should people listen to you? This is to build your credibility as a speaker and an expert in your field.
However, this should be brief – very brief. It should not start with your childhood and lead up to the present moment you’re on stage.
It should be a few sentences specifically about your background on this specific topic.
For instance, when I speak about conquering stage fright, I talk about the first time I was on the stage as a toddler in a ballet recital and compare it to being a teenager at a speech tournament. I don’t talk about my entire history as a writer, speaker, editor etc. – just the pertinent part of my story.
- Bridge to your topic. This is a short segue into your actual talk. In Mark Twain’s words: Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em.
- Your main three points. Things seem to happen in threes. Designers use the ‘rule of three’ when placing decorative items. Our brains are used to things grouped in threes.
If your talk is very lengthy, you may want to use some sub-points but stick with three main points. You’ll remember them and your audience will too.
- Briefly summarize what you’ve said. Not a verbatim reiteration, rather touch on each of the points and the reason for/need for you doing the talk.
Mark Twain says, “Tell ‘em what you told ‘em.”
- Leave them with a concluding thought that ties into your intro. You want them to go away remembering being inspired by you or that you made them laugh for a moment or taught them something.
This can also be an humorous anecdote (one that relates to the first one), a joke (appropriate only), a deep thought or quote.
- And the last important thing – let them know how to reach you. Not blatantly or tackily. If you’re speaking about some aspect of your business (I often talk about writing and giving speeches, for instance, so it’s not about my business per say but about an aspect of my business that will help them do better in theirs.) then this is about marketing, credibility and business building. So, to leave them without a way to reach you is . . . just silly.
Something like, I’d be happy to talk to you about something specific if you have questions. Please take one of my cards. OR please check out my website at writeoncommunicationservices.com.
Not, call me for a quote at xxx-xxx-xxx. You will definitely come off as crass if you do this.
So if you do have specific questions or want some help constructing a talk you can give at networking events (now that we’re doing that again) or have a presentation coming up, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s talk about talking!