Ashley Bowen Cook tells us that most of us will do many more small-group presentations in our life than standing in front of a large crowd. Whether you’re presenting to an internal team or a group of shareholders or at a social occasion, she offers a few suggestions to keep your audience engaged and your points remembered.

Set the scene

Provide an overview of what you’re going to say. Set the scene. You don’t have to have a formal speech written out, in fact, please don’t do that. People will tune out. But you shouldn’t completely wing it. Jot down an outline of key points, even if you don’t refer to them when you’re talking. They will help you make a mental map and ensure you hit the points you want to make. It will also help you make them quicker. You will ramble less.

Establish yourself as an expert. But do it quickly. People want to learn from you. Not listen to your life story, though I’m sure it’s fascinating.

Manage your time

Ask if anyone has the experience to share. This invites participation and immediately makes it more of a conversation than a presentation. This kind of discussion can enrich the presentation by making it more relevant and real. Just don’t lose control. Manage your time and move on when you need to.

Present the material. Clearly, concisely and in a manner that helps people remember your message later. That can be through bold visuals, props, a listing of your top three to five points, and through stories. We remember anecdotes, the more personal the better. “I witnessed… I experienced…”

Modulate your energy level to capture and maintain attention. Provide variety. Raise and lower your volume to create interest and emphasize key points. Enunciate so people don’t have to strain to catch your words. Show your enthusiasm.

Help people understand the relevance of what you’re sharing. If something appears to have no connection to you, you’ll tune it out. Find commonality. This requires an understanding of your audience. Why should they care about what you say? Answer that question in your presentation.

Think about what your audience needs and wants to know. The curse of knowledge can make us blind to key points we should make but don’t. Put yourself in their place.

Make eye contact

Watch your audience. Make eye contact. Ensure people are engaged. Pick up on cues people may be sending. Are they acting restless? Checking the time? Even worse, nodding off?

Finally

Leave ample time for Q&A. Too often we squander the front end of our presentation with useless chitchat or meandering, then scramble and cut things short toward the end. The question-and-answer period can be the most important part of your presentation. Don’t give it short shrift.

Open your Q&A by asking, “Before I close, do you have any questions?” This lets people know you will remain in control and you will close the session on time, not simply trail off. Always repeat questions to ensure everyone heard it – and that you heard it correctly, too. This also buys you a little time to formulate your answer.

If you get unfriendly or combative questions, answer them as factually as you can and move on. Same thing with soft questions. If someone asks something that doesn’t advance understanding or add anything new, don’t spend any more time on those than you need to. Try to add some new information then move on.

Close by repeating your key points. Thank your audience and provide your email or a link where attendees can download your presentation or resources or follow up with you individually. Do all this and your next presentation ought to be a winner.

 

Source: www.gretemangroup.com

(October 2019)

Podiums / lecterns can help or hamper a speaker. Some people sometimes hide behind them. Some grasp on to the sides for dear life.  Having said all of that, a podium/lectern is a great speaking medium if you are delivering a speech or making a presentation.

Halina Saint James shares 10 tips on using a podium/lectern when having to public speak:

  1. Make sure the podium / lectern’s height is correct for you.
  2. If the podium / lectern is a modern acrylic see-through type, keep what you place on it to a minimum i.e. just your notes.
  3. You don’t have to stand behind the podium. You can stand to the side and have your notes on the podium/lectern. Then you can glance at them as needed. This won’t work, of course, if you are using a microphone that’s part of the podium/lectern.
  4. If you are behind the podium/lectern, stand back a step or two from it. This will keep you from clutching or leaning on it. It will encourage you to use your hands naturally. This will, in turn, enhance your authentic voice.
  5. Make sure the notes, water and props etc. are yours and not something another speaker placed there or is / has been using.
  6. Take a few seconds to get yourself comfortable at the podium/lectern before you speak. Adjust the microphone and place your notes the way you want them. Keep your eyes away from the audience as you do this. When you’re ready to speak, lift your head, look at the audience, smile and begin.
  7. If the podium / lectern has a light and you’re using it, make sure it doesn’t obscure your face.
  8. Don’t be afraid to place your podium / lectern exactly where you want it (depending on its size and weight). It’s usually better placed to the left hand side from the audience’s view point, especially if you’re using PowerPoint slides.
  9. Standing behind a podium / lectern can separate you from the audience, which is fine as the audience do accept this.

What is the distinction between these two mainstays of public speaking i.e. the podium and the lectern.

The podium (pl. podiums or podia) is a raised large heavy platform on which the speaker stands to deliver their speech and indeed place their notes. “Podium” is derived from the Greek word πόδι (pothi) which means “foot”. The word “podiatrist” (foot doctor) comes from the same source.

The lectern is a raised, slanted light stand on which a speaker can place their notes. “Lectern” is derived from the Latin word lectus, the past participle of the verb legere, which means “to read”. The word “lecture” comes from the same source. There are tabletop lecterns and there are standalone lecterns, that come in all sizes.

There are very few weddings that do not have some time dedicated to people at the top table to speak about or on behalf of the Bride & Groom. Some do this before the meal, some do it during the meal (between the courses) and most do it after the meal (the correct time to do it really!). The audience might be hungry before the meal, dislike being interrupted while they eat and want time to digest the meal i.e. after the meal, which is the best time to speak to them. But whenever you and / or the Bridal Party decide to speak, will your audience like listening to you?

Well, you hope they will! I guess it all depends on your speech content and how you deliver it. Have you considered the following?

  • Having all of your speech on paper
  • Using the microphone correctly
  • Speaking about the Bride & Groom in equal measure
  • Covering all the ‘Thank you’ s’ only once
  • Standing up
  • Not speaking over applause
  • Not saying too much
  • Not saying too little
  • Avoiding inappropriate stories, jokes or anecdotes
  • Knowing what you must say according to your title on the day
  • Enjoying it…!

The above list is far from exhaustive, there are many more things that you can do and say that makes sure that the audience enjoy your speech and remember it for a long time for the right reasons.

If your job title on the day of a wedding warrants a speech or people are expecting you to speak, do put in the effort and start this effort weeks, indeed months before the wedding day. It will be worth it. Be the one that the audience love to listen to, be the one that they envy and be the one that makes the Bride & Groom delighted that you are part of their life past, present and / or future…

 

You have many times, some times or will some time soon hear a wedding speech from a Bestman, Father of the Bride / Groom, Bride and / or Groom. It will be either a long speech or short speech. There is never a medium length speech and you will never hear anyone say that the speech was the perfect length. It will either be too long or too short! Most of us would error on the short, don’t you agree, while some will write a speech that they think is short, but to the audience / listeners it is / was too long.

So, should you write a long speech or a short speech? Well, it depends on who and what you are writing about, though for the aforementioned speakers this does not really matter. Write down everything you want to mention and speak about as headings or sections in your speech draft. Then write about them in a way that explains how you feel about them and in a way that your audience can appreciate, relate to and enjoy the way you are explaining and feeling about them.

Write to the point and don’t overdo the detail. Don’t dwell too much on one person and one thing. Have variety in the speech making it interesting. Think of the five ‘W’s and one ‘H’ i.e. Who, What, Where, When, Why and How to develop good narrative. Add body to each part of your speech and review it on paper (easier to proof read), continuing to do this until you are satisfied.

You will then question yourself, is the speech too long? You are unlikely to think the speech is too short. If you feel the speech is too long, then you have wrote too much about that particular person or that particular thing!

Rule of thumb is that your speech should be between 9-11 minutes without interruption.

Say what you want to say, it’s a once off, all of these people will never be together like this again to hear you speak about the people that are important to you in your life…

Your wedding is over. The planning, the expense and attention to detail have hopefully paid off and your guests have had a memorable and unforgettable experience all for the right reasons. If you were to do an evaluation analysis on your wedding, like they do after a training course, what would be the responses? (There’s actually a Blog in that alone!).

Let’s make it easier; what would be the top three things that your guests would remember after one day, one week, one month, indeed one year after your wedding? They say they would remember the following:

  • How well the Bride looked?
  • The wedding venue
  • The speeches

How well the Bride looked?

The Bride is hands down, the centre of attention. All eyes are on them from once they step out into the public eye in their wedding dress. The Groom is also noticed, observed and complimented on, but not as much as the Bride whom will be told at least a thousand times how beautiful they look.

The wedding venue

Where the couple get married and where they celebrate their wedding with their guests is also an important memory for people. The grace and reverence of the wedding ceremony; the ambience, hospitality and surroundings of the wedding venue will stick long in the minds of the guests especially the quality and goodness of the meal, the availability of all types of drinks and beverages and the quality and suitability of the music.

The speeches

Your guests will remember the speeches; who spoke, what they said and how they said it. If the speeches are appropriate, humorous (not always necessary) and heart touching, guests will talk about them for days after and remember them for months after. If anything inappropriate is said that may embarrass the Bride, Groom or their families, guests will talk about it for months after and remember them for years after.

Make your wedding memorable for all the right reasons…