Posted by Mary Ann Kelly
Recently I read a Fast Company article on The 8 New Rules of Public Speaking. I wondered why we need “new rules” but TED Talks, YouTube videos, and new platforms like Periscope are changing the ways in which we present a topic. A more casual and interactive forum has replaced the formal presentation. And the most effective communicators will be those who can embrace these methods. Here are the eight rules to keep in mind, as outlined by Jonathan Li in Fast Company:
- PRACTICE DOESN’T MAKE PERFECT
The key is to practice with feedback. Self-critiquing is necessary. Record yourself on your computer or phone and watch. Take notes on what you like and don’t like about your performance. Matthew Kohut, coauthor of Compelling People, suggests that it’s especially important to pay attention to the middle of your talk to make sure your energy doesn’t decrease. That’s typically where we dig into the details of our message, and it’s easier to lose some of the momentum we started with.
- SPEAK LIKE YOU SING
Public speaking is like singing. A powerful voice gives you an edge. Celebrity voice coach Roger Love says breathing the right way matters: “If you want to control the sound, you have to learn to control the air.”
- SCRAP USELESS VISUALS
Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen explains, “The visuals need to amplify your message, not distract from your message.” If any slides you’re presenting help convey an idea visually, then by all means keep them. If not, leave them out.
- TEST YOUR JOKES BEFOREHAND
Judy Carter, author of The Message of You, recommends throwing your funny line into a casual conversation. Make sure your friends or family members don’t know you’re winding up to tell a joke, and see if they laugh. If you get no laughs, you know it’s not funny and probably won’t work well in the context of your presentation either.
I recently asked Judy, “What should I do when nobody laughs at my funny line during my presentation, even if others did when I tested it out beforehand?” She gave me this advice: Be honest. One thing newer speaking formats value highly is the genuineness that comes with doing away with formality. Cheerfully admit to your audience, “Well, my friends thought that was funny” or “Well, hey, I thought that was really funny.” You might get a bigger laugh than you expected when you smile and shrug off a failed joke.
- PRETEND YOU’RE CHATTING WITH FRIENDS
Did picturing the audience in their underwear ever work for you? It’s better to focus on your audience as though they’re guests you know well. Treat them like friends you’re having a casual conversation with.
- ARRIVE AT THE VENUE EARLY
Showing up 15 to 20 minutes early will help you get comfortable with the setting and you can make sure the technology you’re using will work. Check any audio or visual elements and do a mic check.
- KEEP AHEAD OF CHANGE
The business world keeps changing, and so does public speaking. It’s important to keep up to date with the experts and the technological changes in how we communicate.
- FINISH STRONG
People tend to remember the opening and closing of a presentation the best. End strong and get the audience to take action. Scott Schwertly, CEO of the presentation design company Ethos3, asks, “If you don’t have a call to action within your talk, then why in the world do you give it?”