I’m often asked, “What do you do when you’ve got to give a speech?” It is certainly something I like helping people with, whether you’re aged 5 or 75 or anything in between. I think there are some really important things you can remember. Here’s five quick things that can help you to be a great public speaker.
(Thanks goes to Ian Casswell from The Ambition Project who interviewed me about public speaking and these were my responses).
1. Start strong.
The first five seconds of what you say is really important, but what’s even more important is this: you begin before you begin. So the way that you walk on to the stage or in front of your students, the way that you are walking into the room, the way you carry yourself, the way you hold yourself, the way you are holding your notes or your iPad is really, really important. Start strong and remember: you begin before you begin.
2. Accept nervousness, and smile.
Most people feel nervous, even professional public speakers who speak all the time feel nervous. Here’s what you need to do. You need to think of a lemonade bottle. When you shake up a lemonade bottle and you leave the lid on and shake it up, that’s a little bit like what happens with nerves. All this ‘fizz’ gets built up inside and what we tend to do is we quickly open our mouth which is like taking that lid off the lemonade bottle and everything explodes and cascades everywhere. What we actually need to do is simply SMILE because smiling is like letting the lid open a little bit at a time. So before you even start, get up and the first thing you need to do is smile and it’s just letting a little bit of that fizz out right at the beginning.
3. Practice utilization.
This is when things don’t go to plan. Typically, no matter how polished you are, things will not go to plan. Something will happen, someone will walk into the room, someone will fall over, you’ll drop your notes or something will not go to plan. So instead of pretending it didn’t happen, just utilize that situation, acknowledge it, reflect on it, and keep moving forward.
4. Plan what to say.
Whether it is speaking at your school staff meeting or assembly, or delivering a more formal speech, you have to have good content. Plan what you are going to say. Figure out your main point. Think of a story to illustrate your main point. Plan your start. Plan your end. Good content is essential.
5. End strong
You’ve got to have a great ending. Think about how you are going to end. Saying “Thank you” is really not a motivational ending. Think of a story. Think of an illustration. Think about an experience. Ask a question. Give people something to reflect on. Make sure you do something that really brings your talk, your presentation to a close.
This week, the next time you get up to talk in front of your class or your school or your colleagues, remember these 5 things:
- Start strong
- Accept nervousness, and smile
- Practice utilization
- Plan what to say
- End strong
Enjoy the journey,
And more importantly, enjoy the moments.