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#535: Make Audience Time Your Public Speaking Research Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 1, 2011
Updated: Friday, April 1, 2011
I am an experienced consultant wanting to do more public speaking. I see hundreds of books on the topic but most seem to address the same simplistic style and format issues. Where would I find "advanced" public speaking sources?

If you already do some speaking and recognize a good speaker when you see one, then you have all the resources you need right in front of you when you are in the audience. For the past several years, I take two set of notes when I listen to the speaker. On one sheet of paper I jot down points the speaker makes or ideas stimulated by the topic. My other sheet of paper is a list of good, and bad, features of the speaker, environment and presentation.

I have collected a lot of ideas. Some seemed great at the time but are not my style. Others were headed for the wastebasket but, on a second review, I held on to them for use in particular circumstances. The trick is to compile tips and tricks in some sense of structure. I now use a sheet of paper with categories on it: speaker movement, opening (first minute), introduction, visual aids, audience engagement, audience reaction, handouts, audience preparation, presumed audience knowledge (beyond readaheads), follow up (e.g., asking for business cards from audience), pacing of talk and modulation of voice, use of humor, etc.

After a few years, I am developing a few "styles" that both suit me and work as a package. One caution is to not throw a bunch of good ideas together and expect them to work as a package - some speaker styles just won't work with others. Finally, this has to be something you get to gradually, and should be based on good speakers. Feel free to note particularly ineffective speaker techniques.

Tip: Foremost, these techniques should be built on top of your own personality, style and speaking topics. Use your research as an audience member to refine your own core speaking approach, not build one from scratch.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  innovation  learning  speaking 

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