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Top 7 Tips for Effective Public Speaking

By Hal Rogers

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This won't come as a surprise, but being a confident, effective public speaker starts before you enter the room. Preparation is really quite easy. The following seven tips are useful when speaking to the public.

  1. Timing is everything. Know the time allotted for your presentation, then design a speech that will use 75 percent of that time. This will give you some flexibility. Most people take longer than they planned. And if you do end early, remember that no speaker has ever been faulted for wrapping up too soon.

  2. Take the spotlight. Place yourself in good lighting. If the lectern is not properly lighted, move it or move away from it into the light. Audiences feel more connected with a speaker when they can see his or her eyes, face and facial expressions. When you're in the light, you look the part of the most important person in the room.

  3. Grab their attention. Start with a strong introduction that lets the audience know within the first 30 seconds where you're going. Don't reveal your message but give them a clue. Example: The cellular telephone industry has never been stronger, but there is a threat to our business that must be confronted.

  4. Keep the body trim. Design the body of your speech using a logical progression of key points and don't stray. Seven is a magic number to the human brain. More than seven points and it becomes a task to remember them all. Include a story. Stories, especially from your personal experience, can be extremely powerful, but be sure that it's brief and it supports your message. Avoid tangential thoughts or comments that have little or nothing to do with your message. This is not the time for brain storming. You can lose audience attention in a split second by not staying focused.

  5. The facts...just the facts. If your purpose is to convince people to think as you do, you have to share with them the same facts that convince you. This could require using an overhead projector, flip chart or other device. Because printed handouts during the meeting can be distracting, they should be your last choice. The extra effort to provide support visuals will be well worth your effort. Avoid the "I think"-type statements from your speech. Stick to the facts or state your opinion without saying "In my opinion...". Example: ABC company is now open until 7pm. It's time for us to re-evaluate our office hours to be more competitive.

  6. Close with a strong appeal to the audience that ties in your introductory statement and calls for action on the part of the audience. Example: Management values your opinions. During the next few days, I invite you to give thought to how you believe we can be more competitive and, then, submit your suggestions for consideration.

  7. Don't close with the trite "Thank you." (You're thanking them for what? Not throwing a tomato? Not leaving the room?) Simply turn control of the room back with, "Mr.Emcee!" or give the emcee a nod or gesture. If you must say more, try "Have a good day!"

Today's Top7Business article was submitted by Hal Rogers, business trainer and video/media producer. He can be reached at http://advantagegroup.homestead.com or send email to:

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Article Submitted On: February 23, 2000