Giv­ing a speech can be nerve-rack­ing for many peo­ple. Veteran speaker and coach Lynn Baker shares some pre­sen­ta­tion tips with He­len Grange

The Star Early Edition - - LIFESTYLE VERVE -

YOU KNOW the sub­ject back­wards, but when asked to speak about it in pub­lic, you break into a cold sweat. Is this you?

Pub­lic-speak­ing anx­i­ety is com­mon, and it’s be­com­ing even more preva­lent today be­cause we spend less of our time in pub­lic prac­tis­ing our so­cial skills and more time on­line by our­selves.

The prob­lem is that if your work re­quires you to make pre­sen­ta­tions to man­age­ment or staff, your anx­i­ety can in­ter­fere with your plans for pro­mo­tion.

Iron­i­cally, it’s of­ten over­achiev­ers who fear pub­lic speak­ing the most. This is be­cause they’re hy­per-aware of the im­por­tance of pre­sen­ta­tion skills in climb­ing the cor­po­rate lad­der, so they worry ex­ces­sively about not do­ing it well enough to im­press the boss.

En­ter Lynn Baker, a sea­soned pub­lic speaker and speak­ing coach who has re­cently pub­lished a use­ful man­ual ti­tled Speak­ing of Speak­ing, in which she walks us through a speech from prepa­ra­tion to de­liv­ery.

The most im­por­tant thing to know is that the Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tion, ac­com­pa­nied by rat­tling off in­for­ma­tion, no longer cuts it.

“A few years ago, the av­er­age per­son had an at­ten­tion span of three to five min­utes. Today the av­er­age at­ten­tion span is re­port­edly nine sec­onds,” says Baker.

If you want to grab at­ten­tion, you have to be clever and en­gag­ing from the start.

“Today’s au­di­ences are no longer stirred by tra­di­tional modes of pre­sen­ta­tion or out­dated for­mats of com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” Baker says.

“We live in a time when vis­ual nar­ra­tives con­tin­u­ously bom­bard us into numb­ness, so peo­ple thirst for a more nat­u­ral connection in which in­for­ma­tion is dis­trib­uted in a clear, con­cise and elo­quent style.”

This means you need to en­gage as you would in con­ver­sa­tion rather than talk at your au­di­ence.

“A pre­sen­ta­tion should be visu­ally stim­u­lat­ing, con­tent rich and de­liv­ered with a per­for­mance that en­gages an au­di­ence in a vir­tual con­ver­sa­tion.

“And it needs to de­liver fo­cused and valu­able con­tent that the au­di­ence can use im­me­di­ately after the pre­sen­ta­tion.” How do you get this right? Prepa­ra­tion is key. “Be­gin with the end in mind,” Baker says.

“Write the ob­jec­tive of the speech in a sen­tence of 10 words or less. This should clearly and specif­i­cally iden­tify what the au­di­ence should leave re­mem­ber­ing or do­ing.”

Next, find out who is at­tend­ing and how much they know about the sub­ject, then de­liver only in­for­ma­tion that is new or rel­e­vant.

“Try to use new, ex­cit­ing or orig­i­nal ma­te­rial that they haven’t seen or heard be­fore.”

Hu­man be­ings re­mem­ber best when in­for­ma­tion is shared in three seg­ments – open­ing, body, and close.

“Open with a bang. Do some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent to open the pre­sen­ta­tion,” Baker says.

“Play en­er­getic mu­sic, run a dy­namic video, re­cite a pow­er­ful quote or ask a bold ques­tion, just do some­thing that the au­di­ence would not be ex­pect­ing. This not only grabs au­di­ence’s at­ten­tion, but clearly dis­tin­guishes you from other speak­ers on the pro­gramme and makes you mem­o­rable,” says Baker.

After that, in­tro­duce your­self and es­tab­lish your cred­i­bil­ity, be­fore go­ing into the body of the speech, which should be where your key points are.

Barack Obama is re­garded as one of the great­est speak­ers of all time.

Speak­ing coach, Lynn Baker.

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