I invited Elaine Love to do this guest post for my blog.
41% of 5000 people in a 2011 management association survey listed their #1 fear as public speaking. In the same survey, 19% listed their #1 fear as death. Even though more people fear public speaking than death, I guarantee, the experience will not be fatal.
You have been asked to deliver the opening remarks for your professional association’s annual meeting. It was easy when you were sitting around a table with the five people in your management team. Standing on stage speaking to three hundred people is totally different. You know your subject, but you have never thought of yourself as a public speaker.
How long have you been asked to speak? Once you know the time parameters, you can organize your thoughts. If you have ten minutes, break it down into an opening, body and conclusion.
Opening: On a ten minute presentation, one minute for an opening is ideal.
Body: The body of the presentation is seven minutes.
Conclusion: Wrap up your remarks in two minutes.
Granted, this is a simplification. I can hear your brains saying, “Easy for you to do.” You will amaze yourself how well you will do. 1 + 7 + 2 = 10 minutes and you are off the stage.
Open with something interesting. Your audience decides in the first seven seconds if they like you and in the first thirty seconds if they want to hear what you have to say. Make your first seconds count.
Boring speakers open with the unpleasant pleasantries of “It’s nice to be here” “Thank you for coming” “Glad to see you.” Don’t waste your precious opening seconds. Boring openings send the audience scurrying to check their smartphone for messages.
Open with a shocking statistic, a quotation, something humorous or a quick story. The opening is designed to create attention and interest. When you open with something interesting, you create the impression that the meeting will not be a waste of their time.
Just as a beautiful woman catches the eye, captivates the attention and inspires the interest to want to know more, so does your opening.
The main part of your message includes the information you want to convey. The easiest way to think about the body is by answering the question, “What do you want them to think, feel or do?”
If seven minutes feels like a long time, consider that the average cell phone call is three minutes and 15 seconds. Conference phone calls run slightly longer. Mentally think of yourself as making one video conference phone call.
The easiest way to organize the main portion of your message is to state your central point and back it with statistics, a story or by highlighting a benefit to them.
Tie your message in to the purpose of the meeting. Make a point and support it. The more they know the value they receive by following your idea, the more buy-in you will receive.
Seven minutes gives you enough time to thoroughly cover one point. The temptation is to hint at several topics and not really cover any of them. If you attempt to cover too many topics in a short period of time the audience becomes confused or overwhelmed. As you know so well, the confused or overwhelmed mind does nothing.
Summarize your main points and leave them with your “walk away message.” In a sales presentation you give a call to action. Here your call to action is what you want them to think, feel or do after you speak.
Bring your remarks full circle by summarizing your main point, your call to action and tying in your opening.
Just like that beautiful woman leaves you wanting more, you are leaving your audience wanting to hear more from you.
In a Nutshell
Have confidence in yourself. You are probably the only person who knows that you are nervous. Public speaking will not be fatal.
Give an interesting opening, one well supported point, and a conclusion with a “walk away message.”
Elaine Love writes for PrintPlace.com, Small Business Examiner and Elaine4Success.com. Her expertise is in small business, marketing, mindset for business and speaking coaching. Her credentials include Masters Degrees in Communication, 35 years of entrepreneurial awards including “International Innovator of the Year,” World Class Speaking Coach, and author of 3 books. Contact Elaine on Google+ at +Elaine.
A Presentations Skills Quiz, Effective Openings and Panic to Power presentation guides are an email away. Send Elaine your contact information and one speaking challenge you are facing. Elaine@Elaine4Success.com. You will receive the guide and