How many times have you sat through a conference, a workshop, or a pitch and felt the speaker doing a horrible job of reading off of a bad script that they wrote right before and tried to memorize?
Doesn’t that feel weird?
Does it make you want to ask them questions?
Or just google something on your phone?
Too, there’s this common public speaking “cadence” or “stage persona” that a lot of presenters try to imitate because they think that that is how a speaker is “supposed” to talk. Do you know the one I’m referring to? It’s “sing-songy” with lots of forced high pitches and then the speaker slows down to “dramatically” emphasize a point that doesn’t really need to be overdramatized:
“…and that, is how, we DECIDED, to go to Olive Garden FOR LUNCH!”
A speech is not a song. There aren’t any notes that you should memorize. A speech should be an extension of the way you actually talk when you are in a one-on-one conversation.
You, as an audience member, probably don’t like to watch that kind of delivery or performance either. So how do we change it?
Place your emph-aaaa-siiiiiissss on Content, Content, Content! Let the core information that you are presenting dictate how you deliver the message (not the other way around). So many people rehearse how they want their speech to sound, but they don’t spend as much time getting super clear about WHAT they are really trying to say and what they want the audience to understand.
When crafting a speech spend more time developing your purpose for the presentation. How does your content better the lives of those around you. What gift are you giving them with your content? What can they do with the knowledge they received from you?
For those of us that are fearful of public speaking because of insecurity about what the audience might be thinking of you, create a solid purpose statement in 1-3 sentences that articulates very clearly what the biggest takeaway of your presentation is, and what you want them to do with that info. This will help with fear of being judged because you have their best interest in mind. It’s hard for an audience to judge a speaker that is working towards making their lives better.
Next, structure your outline and/or powerpoint (I never recommend writing a full speech and memorizing it like you had to in high school) in such a way that serves your purpose statement and desired outcome. Every bit of information that you include in your presentation needs to address and support your purpose. This will keep you on track when crafting your message and closer to achieving your goal of taking your audience on a positive journey that is engaging and helpful.
After you have articulated that specificity, imagine that you are speaking to 1 person in the audience as opposed to 100. How would you speak to that individual? Would you talk AT them loudly with broad arm gestures? Or would you speak clearly and slowly, all the while checking in if they are listening? Don’t be afraid to ask that audience member questions in your speech, and genuinely wait for a response. This will be a helpful reminder that you are creating an organic back and forth as opposed to a lecture. If you treat your audience as a group of individuals instead of a faceless mob I guarantee you will see better results from them.
Bottom line, don’t talk AT an audience or rehearse HOW you’re going to say your speech! Be clear about the impact of your content, and direct yourself to share your important information with one listener that will greatly benefit from your expertise!