Whether you have spoken at one or one hundred annual meetings, speaking in front of your association is never an easy task. However, there are steps you can take to help overcome the trepidation. If your message is coherent, informative and interesting that is 99% of the battle. Here are some key points to capture and keep your audience’s attention:
- Talk about their concerns. Begin your message by broadly discussing the issues important to your association. Describe the issues or challenges that are probably on their minds. Starting there will capture their attention and lead the message where you want to go.
- Use the KIS Principle: Keep it simple. Fine tune your main message. Be selective about the details and drive the main points home, otherwise you risk losing people’s attention.
- Anticipate what your audience is thinking. When you express one view, it’s likely the audience will begin thinking about other, unstated parts of the subject. Anticipate the questions and concerns that may come up.
- Learn to pause. Pause to let the audience catch up, let them rest, let words resonate and to give the impression of composure and thoughtfulness. There are no set rules for the right time to pause. It takes practice. Try breaking up / your paragraphs / like this / into short phrases. / Take a breath / at each mark / to teach your mind / to slow down.
- Master your body language. Focus on a single attribute, such as relaxed, fluid, calm or assertive, and begin acting it in the everyday things you do. If you choose to focus on calmness, once the behavior becomes a part of your routine, practice calmly walking up to the front of a room, calmly arranging papers and calmly delivering your message.
Probably the most important aspect of your message preparation is practice, practice, practice. It may remind you of the old joke: “A man is lost in New York City and asks a street performer; “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The street performer answers with; “Practice, practice and more practice.”
Nine Tips for Public Speaking from Presentation Plus by David Peoples:
- Memorize the first two minutes of your presentation
- Preplan the first 3 to 5 words
- Create cheat sheets
- Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
- Arrive 30 minutes early
- Meet, touch and talk with audience before meeting
- Breathing deeply gets the poison out
- Lift up on chair (Grab bottom of seat and pull up hard for 5 seconds, then repeat, repeat, repeat This will release tension)
- Press palms together: this helps reduce tension.