Posts tagged public speaking tips
3 Secret Weapons to Engage Your Audience
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
— Carl W Buechner

The best presentations engage your audience on a human level. You may be the one standing in front of an audience, but that doesn’t mean you have to do all the work.

I often hear from clients that they don’t like public speaking because they feel like they’re talking AT people. If you’re talking AT people it’s not going to be fun… for anyone.

The best way to engage your audience is to involve them.

Invite them into your world, use your creativity, and show them your personality.

I was recently doing a workshop for a team of researchers and we were playing with techniques to make presentations stand out at conferences. Just because you’re presenting data doesn’t mean your presentation has to be dry.

Below are 3 secret weapons to connect with your audience so you can stop talking at people and have more fun.

Secret Weapon #1: Pictures

Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Stop putting so many words on your slides and replace them with pictures. We’ve all sat through boring Powerpoint presentations and no one wants to read them.

Pictures engages different learning styles and help bring your ideas to life.

When you don’t have slides, use descriptive language to paint a picture.

Secret Weapon #2: Props

We’re so inundated with screens that anytime you show people a real object, it automatically grabs their attention.

Some of the best TED talks include props. Susan Cain brought her suitcase full of books to the TED stage and Josh Kaufman played the ukulele during his talk.

When I was working with a client doing events for the nonprofit 826, she incorporated a can of chuptzpah into her presentation.

Not only did it highlight a product from the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store where they were holding the event, but it added humor and vulnerability to her talk and helped her connect on a human level.

Props are a great place to inject creativity into your presentation. They can provide visual interest and sound, such as a holding up a plastic water bottle and crunching it when I was talking about the perils of single use water bottles.

Secret Weapon #3: Personal Stories

Stories are memorable. They elicit emotion and engage the senses.

You can use stories to set the scene for your audience and show them why they should care about your topic.

When I teach workshops we do a storytelling exercise to get everyone’s creative juices flowing and I challenge people to think about how they can use all 3 strategies (pictures, props and personal stories) in combination to make their content come alive.

Do you have a secret weapon that you use when speaking?

Let me know what it is.

Are you feeling stuck in your choices?

Are you feeling stuck?


Sometimes play can help you get unstuck so you can come up with new ideas.

That's why I created the Momentum Maker, a new spin on a classic game piece.

You might remember it as a fortune teller or a cootie catcher. But unlike the ones you made in grade school, this one won’t tell you who you’re going to marry or how many kids you’re going to have. Instead, it will do something far more useful.


The Momentum Maker is a conversation tool to stop procrastination
and get your team talking and engaged in a productive dialog exchange.


Check out this interview from when I was featured on The Cheerful Mind to find out how I use the Momentum Maker as a coaching tool. https://youtu.be/CRUp9Wm7jHI


Want one?

Join us at the next workshop Collaboration with Your Clients: Critical Conversation Skills To Keep Presentations On Track presented by Spark Design Professionals.


Practice Your Talk on the Subway

This might sound crazy, but the subway is a perfect place to practice your

public speaking.

What?! Yes, that’s right!


I practice while I’m commuting and I encourage clients to practice on the train, in the car, or while you’re walking to work.

This is my favorite life hack for all those folks

who don’t think they have time to practice.

Imagine how productive your commute could be if you used 10 or 15 minutes of your travel time to practice a presentation instead of scrolling through social media.

People often ask if I’m worried about looking crazy. NOT at all.

This is New York City and there are far weirder things! No one is paying attention.

If you’re self conscious, put in your headphones – people will think you’re listening to music.

This is a great technique to get used to distractions. You can even record yourself practicing while you’re on the subway or waiting at an empty section on the platform.

Want a few more practice ideas you may not have thought of?

  1. Take an Improv class. Magnet Theater, UCB and The PIT all offer classes. Read about my experience taking improv in 7 Life Lessons from Improv

  2. Go to a city council meeting and talk about an issue in your neighborhood.

  3. Host a dinner party and give a presentation for your friends.

  4. Check out Toastmasters. Find a club here and find me at Heights Toastmasters twice a month.

  5. Practice for your neighbors. It’s a great way to get to know people.

  6. Practice for your dog, or your cat or your lizard. It’s #3 in 7 Practice Strategies to Ace Your Presentation.

Want more practice ideas?

Download 7 Practice Strategies to Ace Your Presentation.

How Practice Makes TED Talks & Great Talks

One of the creative directors in my Speak with Impact Lab shared a story about seeing an early iteration of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. Over a few years, the talk that launched Simon Sinek to fame and became the third most viewed TED Talk of all time started out as a presentation for 8 people in someone’s living room.


The moral of the story?
Your talk doesn’t need to be perfect at the outset.

In fact, it’s almost certain that it won’t be.

Perfection should not be your aim, but practice and feedback are essential.


The more you practice the closer you’ll get to a presentation that delivers what you want it to. There may be countless iterations and living room talks before the big talk you want to give, and that’s perfectly okay and part of the process.

Need an audience?
Here are some ways you can get one.

  • Have a dinner party and give your presentation for friends

  • Practice for your housemates

  • Practice for your children

  • Practice outside as people walk by


Want some help putting your presentation together. Check out Polish & Pop: Presentation Power Hour.


Don’t Look LIke a ROBOT

I saw Grace Bonney speak at Creative Mornings last week. Grace is founder of the successful blog Design Sponge. She talked about the importance of in-person connection. Her message: 
 

"Real people matter, real life experiences matter, and what happens on the internet matters a whole lot less."
 

If you have the chance to speak in front of other people, focus on connection and the fact that your audience wants to hear from you. You may not relish being in the spotlight, you might be nervous, but if you have the opportunity to share your work in real life, seize it!

Focus on the fact that you’re talking to other people. And remember that your audience wants to hear from you.
 

Don’t look like a robot and use these 3 strategies to build connection:


1. Look Them in the Eye

I know it can feel scary standing at the front of the room with all eyes on you. If you’re nervous or shy, eye contact might be the last thing you want to focus on. But consider this:

Your audience wants to know you’re talking to them.

So look them straight in the eye.

People often ask how to make contact with a big room of people. Here's a Tip: Look at one person at a time and tell them a whole thought. Then, move on to another person and tell them your next thought. With practice it will get easier. 


2. Smile

If you’re nervous and don’t feel like smiling, do it anyway. 

Smiling helps you relax.


It triggers different hormones in the body and when you smile, people in the audience are more likely to smile back at you. It will make the experience more fun, and if you're having fun so will your audience.

 

3. Be curious

Find out who your audience is and make sure your topic interests them. For instance, you might research them in advance and find out their profession, age range, and educational background. Once you know more about the audience, tailor your content to suit them.
 

Want more strategies to build your speaking confidence and an opportunity to practice live with other creatives?

Don’t miss the next Speak with Impact Workshop on March 5th! Details and tickets here.