Faith Pincus delivered part two in a series of public speaking webinars on behalf of Lexblog. You can read the highlights of the first webinar, Find Your Voice, Speak with a Purpose, here. In today’s webinar, Faith shared the best and easiest ways to organize your presentation, how to write catchy introductions and how to make your conclusions memorable. She began with several quotes which exemplify the power of language, including the famous quote from Martin Luther King “I have a dream.” That’s what a successful speech can do — statements made by speakers 50 years ago still have an impact today. In developing your speech, think of the “AMI” methodology = Audience (your speech is about them, not you); Message (develop the purpose of your speech and write it down); and, Image (it’s not just about how you look, but how you deliver). Five Steps to Organize Your Presentation
- Define the Purpose or Thesis. Write down what you are trying to accomplish and then say it out loud. If you need to take a breath while saying, it’s too long.
- Gather Supporting Materials. Use a variety of supporting materials that will help you explain the concept you are trying to teach or discuss. As you go through the materials, think about different ways you can illustrate your point. Why use supporting materials? It will help you connect with audience and will “humanize” your topic in a way your audience can absorb. Use facts, quotes, cases, statistics, interviews, articles, deposition testimony, even role playing. Stories are huge – humans relate to stories and are very helpful in communicating complex ideas.
- Determine Top Three Points. After you gather the supporting materials and have determined your purpose, look at it all and find the top three points only. Why just three? Research shows that people remember and absorb odd numbers. All the information you gathered can be broken-down into those three points.
- Determine the Organizational Pattern. You can deliver your speech in several different ways, including chronological or sequential order, it depends on the topic. Lawyers often use a “problems/solutions” order or even a “compare/contrast” order taking one idea and comparing to the other.
- Create An Outline. Do NOT write your presentation out as a speech. Most people are not capable of reading a presentation word for word and then delivering it in conversation style with enough finesse to have impact. You are not the President of the United States with a teleprompter. Best practice is to create it in outline format, maybe even in full sentence format and practice out loud to see what works and what doesn’t. When you write it down, it may sound brilliant but when you start saying it out loud, you trip over it or some sentences or it may not make sense. As you practice and become more familiar with the presentation, reduce the full sentence outline to a key word outline. The key word outline is meant as a prompt to remind you what you want to talk about. Ask if the outline accomplishes your purpose (Step 1).
Create Catchy Introductions The purpose of an introduction is to grab your audience’s attention, peak their curiosity and interest and connect with them. The introduction should clarify your purpose and preview your main points. Connect with the audience the entire time with good eye contact; it will boost your credibility. You only have a few moments to make a first impression and establish you are credible. Don’t fumble papers and NEVER read your introduction, in fact memorize it. Make sure it’s short – in fact five minutes or less is good. No one wants to listen to a 20-minute introduction. It shouldn’t take that long to introduce your presentation and grab your audience’s attention. What goes in an introduction? Faith uses great quotes. You can also use statistics, anecdotes, stories, humor, rhetorical questions, “raise your hand if” questions.” Faith cautions that if you are going to use humor, make sure it’s funny, non-offensive and somehow related to your topic. Test the humor by running it by someone that doesn’t have to laugh at your jokes. What doesn’t go into an introduction? Statement like “thank you so much for having me speak today” and “what a great audience.” Develop Memorable Conclusions Conclusions should reinforce your image and message and include a call to action. People remember the first and last thing they hear so reinforce your message in your conclusion and leave on a strong note. What goes in a conclusion? Conclusions should not be any longer than your introduction. Summarize your three main points, take something from your introduction and make reference in your conclusion to bring your speech full circle. Never end with “okay, that’s it, we’re done” or ask “any questions?” Faith has a good suggestion to say “I have time for a couple questions and then I’m going to wrap it up.” That way you end with your note and message. Side note, make sure you do wrap it up in a timely manner and not continue on for another 20 minutes. How do you deliver a conclusion? The same way you do an introduction. Memorize it and deliver it with confidence and good eye-contact.
Q. Is it best to take questions during your presentation or at the end? A. Faith said to do what works best for you there are no hard fast rules. If audience is big, you may want to wait until the end. Can you do so with getting sidetracked? You don’t want to answer so many questions that you ran out of time to finish your presentation. She suggested handing out 4 x 6 cards, have someone collect them and state that you will take time to answer questions throughout the day. Q. What can you do when a member of the audience is monopolizing your time with questions? A. Take back in control. The second the person takes a breath, interrupt and say that’s really interesting and you have a lot of great ideas. Validate what they are saying but ask them to write down their questions and see you on break. Then seek them out to answer them so as not to lose credibility. Q. What are some tips to overcoming fear and nerves? A. Faith suggested some great books: Speaking Scared and Sounding Good by Peter Desberg and Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking – A Proven Method by Dr. Motley. Faith also suggested to be well prepared and practice a lot! Take your nervousness and harness the energy. Don’t let mental conversation in your head take control.