A good friend of mine recently asked for some tips on doing a presentation for the first time. And I’ve been giving more and more “talks” and presentations in various formats, I wanted to share some of the tips I’ve picked up doing public speaking.
Here are 9 tips for giving rockin’ cool presentations:
- Be yourself — I love this quote by Oscar Wilde rocks: “Be you, everybody else is taken.” This also means breaking all the “speaking rules” if they don’t ultimately feel right. If you are going to feel mechanical trying to meet the guidelines someone somewhere (including me) has set for speaking, then it’s going to come off as hollow and staged. Be you.
- Be passionate — John Wesley said (paraphrased), “Light yourself on fire and people will come watch you burn.” Be enthusiastic about what you’re talking about. Enthusiasm and passion cover a multitude of speaking sins.
- Know your stuff — Talk about what you know best. You can be passionate but ultimately if you don’t know what you’re talking about you’re doomed to fail and rightly so. Make sure you have a thorough understanding and experience with your subject.
- Lay it out there — Give your best and your gold. Don’t hold anything back. One of the best received presentations I did was when I just let it all go and laid it all on the line.
- Hit the highlights & offer the big takeaways — I love lightning talks because they force you to focus on what truly matters. Don’t try to push the entire encyclopedia entry of what you’re talking about in one talk. Find a resonating theme and drive it home with big, bold statements that people will remember.
- Use slides and notes for fallbacks — I can know my material in and out, but the moment I set foot on a platform and see a bunch of faces looking back at me I typically blank. Slides and notes are there for those of us who don’t naturally like the spotlight. This comes easy for some people and they are usually the ones who advocate against using notes or slides. For the rest of us they keep us on track and remind us of the main points we’re sharing.
- Use a microphone, always — I’ve been told that I talk softly. And most every time I’ve talked people have asked for me to “speak up.” No matter if you think you have the voice of an opera singer, use a mic. I mean, after all, you do want people to hear the talk you’ve worked hard to share with them, right?
- Rehearse with a blog post — I can’t begin to tell you how beneficial my blogging has helped me with speaking. Blogging forces you to crystallize and organize your thoughts and ideas. And often, you’ll be speaking, and naturally say something you probably wrote in a blog post.
- Practice makes better — Yes, if you want to be a better speaker or presenter, then you have to practice. You have to DO it. Otherwise, everything I’ve said here is theory until you actually get up in front of people and talk. Each time you will learn something about yourself and speaking to improve on.
OK, what tips do you have to share about giving presentations and doing public speaking?