Are you a competent, confident and effective speaker? Do you deliver your message in a way that resonates, convinces and inspires confidence in your association?
Public speaking is a fact of life for association leaders. Leaders must address member meetings, stakeholder groups, regulators and other decision-makers. Your speaking abilities have an impact on the credibility and perceived professionalism of your association.
You may be a seasoned speaker or a newbie. Either way, you can improve your effectiveness by focusing on these 5 tips.
How to prepare
- What does your audience want/expect? Ensure that you are delivering the information your audience is expecting. What are your key messages?
- Speak what you know. Ensure you know your subject matter cold.
- Slide deck/script first. Draft your presentation. If slides are to be used, create a high-level slide deck. If not, create a script.
- Practise. Find a quiet place and practice your delivery.
- Revise, repeat. You don’t speak the way you write. Revise your slide deck/script based on your practice runs.
What to wear
This is not fashion advice, but your attire affects your effectiveness.
- Shoes, socks, hemline. Be aware of where you will be standing relative to your audience. If you’re on an elevated platform, their sight line may be focused on the lower part of your body. Ensure your shoes, hose and trouser or skirt hemline are impeccable.
- Room to move. Ensure your clothing doesn’t ride up, cling or gape as you move. Ensure you can move comfortably as you gesture and walk on your “stage”. Practice in your chosen attire.
- 1-2 steps above. Ensure your attire plays to your audience. You should be dressed in a consistent manner but 1-2 steps above your audience to support your credibility as an expert. E.g. if your audience is wearing business casual, add a jacket to your ensemble.
What’s in your slide deck?
If you’re using a slide deck, it’s not a script, it’s a visual supplement to your delivery.
- Cues only. By all means, give yourself cues to remind you of your messaging; but never use the slide deck as a script of your delivery. You’re a speaker not a slide deck reader.
- Stories/examples. Make it real. Include real life stories to support your messages.
- Images. Ensure that every slide has an image that supports the slide message.
How to mic up
- Fixed or lapel? If you present best as you move around your stage or the room space, ensure that you have a lapel mic. This means you need a lapel that is firm enough to support a small mic, and a skirt or trousers with a structured waistband that can secure the support pack, and a jacket or longer top that will cover it.
- Podium or table? A podium creates a barrier between you and your audience. If you need to be able to refer to your notes, ask for a table.
- Sound check. Arrange with the AV provider to arrive at least 15 minutes before your presentation, and check your sound. By the way, even if you have as strong voice, a mic is your best bet. Your voice could be competing with a concurrent presentation next door.
Engaging your audience
- Who are you? Why are you here? Start your talk by engaging the people who are here for your expertise. Ask them what they want to learn from your talk and be prepared to answer their expectations in your delivery.
- Sharing/discussion points. Ensure that your presentation gives your audience opportunities to express their personal experience.
- Move in. You’ll need a lapel mic for this. Move throughout the room to connect with your audience.
- Toastmasters. This is an excellent and inexpensive club to learn and practice your speaking skills. Investigate the clubs in your neighbourhood.
- Have Fun and be yourself!