Monday May 12, 2014

Speaking Tips

speaker Tips on Performing a birthday speech / presentation.

As a consultant I am frequently standing up and performing presentations to groups, meetings, customers or workshops both internally and externally.

However this weekend I had to do something different, I had to perform a 40th birthday speech
for my wife and so thought I would record some tips and advice for those in a similar position.

Please note that this is not 100% the complete guide but just some useful points I have found over the years of doing similar and I hope helpful. 


Speech construction

1.  The speech needs to be short.  Whenever speaking make sure the length of speech is appropriate.  For a party speech it should never exceed 2-3 minutes.

2.  The speech should always be broken into sections starting with an introduction  (thanks, purpose, set the scene).

3.  The speech should then move to main content  (if easier think of 2-3 short stories or points and build around this).

4.  Finally a catchy conclusion to sum up.  (use lines from a song or you might use a joke or big point to finish).

Speech Performance

1.  When performing the speech although it is useful to have initially write out the whole thing in full, you probably will never actually read it word for word / line for line.  The reason for this if reading it then you lose the effect of your voice and adopt a reading voice, you also will not be able to have eye contact and engage with your audience.

So after reading it through a few times just to practice, write out only the main point lines and have this as your cues to talk around.  You will find the summary lines keep you moving along and allow you to remember more of the initial detail than you think from what you practiced earlier.  Another point is if you get a little stuck or finish a point you can easily just pick up the next one and follow the cue.

2.  Remember that any cue cards you use need to suit the environment you are performing in.  For example if in a darker low light room then you need a larger font to be able to see!

3.  Remember you may have a microphone in one hand so need to be able to hold any materials like cue cards in the other.  Think about implementation! How can you turn pages with one hand?

4.  Always speak to the people at the rear of the room to be loud and heard.  This also helps with focus and eye contact issues.  Everyone will think you are looking at them and your voice will be the appropriate volume as you are focused to the people furthest away.

5.  Always try to speak clearly and take your time.  Nerves will always make us rush, so remember to breathe and slow yourself down to come across relaxed and control any mistakes.  If a mistake occurs just enjoy the moment and either pick up or move along.  We are all human and mistakes happen, it is how you deal with them that makes us all different.

6.  Always remember we all get nerves and these are actually a good thing not a bad thing.  We need the nerves to help us have adrenalin to actually perform, just remember to breathe and control the nerves so that they don't take over.

7.  With practice be aware of any bad habits such as rocking on the spot, waving hands or the classic "ummm's".  It can help to have someone else listen to you practice and look up the tricks on any obvious issues to stop these occurring.

If you ever do a formal presentation course as I have had to do previously you will find that they will make you present to one or more video cameras and then review with the instructor.  Nothing works better than by actually watching and listening to yourself as it means you see all those irritating habits and can then work on them. 

There are so many solutions to each issue or habit, for example people that rock or walk about or wave hands too much find it easier to hold onto something to prevent those issues.

8.  Finally and most importantly enjoy the attention and time, smile and relax, pretend it is a conversation with a friend and people will engage with you.

If you have to do something similar and are struggling, please let me know and I would be happy to assist you.  Although even now nerves occur for me in these situations due to the number of presentations and stand up roles I have had to perform it is like everything and practice brings confidence as well as ability.

About

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Andy Baker, Senior Principal Consultant for Oracle Consulting Services (@Bakers_byte), shares his news, views and ideas about the Oracle Database with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.

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