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Do you enjoy public speaking?   It is an honour to be invited to speak at events, talk to the media, do interviews and video’s.   I admit it is always a bit nerve-racking and want to know what they are going to ask.  Here are some tips to help with public speaking.

Always be prepared.  Ask what the speaking engagement will be about, what is the topic and what subject matter do they want you to focus on.  Write out your thoughts and read it over several times ahead of time.   I usually scribble additional items, scratch out words and replace words.   Even if you do not read the material, having it prepared makes a big difference.

Share your story.  I actually mean is share many of your stories.  These are personal and passionate stories to engage the audience by showing your vulnerable side.   Make these light and do not try to hard to be funny as it can backfire.  Sharing your stories allows you to have some fun with the audience.   Keep it relevant to your topic.

Be Yourself.  When you are yourself, you are genuine and you make it real for the audience.  Show your core values, your passion and what you believe in as it relates to the context of the speech.  Do not try to be someone you are not as most can see right through this.

Ask Questions.  I enjoy starting a presentation by asking questions.   Start with a simple question and put your own hand up first to encourage others.   One of my classic questions is “Does anyone here have a cell phone?”  My hand goes up and I nod.   Then I say “OK, let’s keep our cell phones off and take away at least one nugget from my presentation.   Does this sound good to you?

Answer Truthfully.  When asked a question and you do not know the answer, simply state that.  It is Okay not to know everything.  Sometimes questions are meant to test you to see if you know the subject matter or someone will pull in some trivial piece of information.  Make it fun for everyone, be a good sport and answer truthfully or let them know it is a good question and you do not have the answer.  Sometimes they will blurt out the answer themselves which you can thank them for sharing.

Make it Enjoyable.  I prefer to skip the PowerPoint “read every slide” type of presentation.  It is a more enjoyable presentation to go “unplugged and personal”.  Of course there are times when you require slide decks but do not read them.  Know your material.  Keep slides to a minimal with bullet form and not paragraphs of information.  Throw in a picture once in a while to make it enjoyable.  I slid a picture of my daughter sleeping and commented “that’s what my daughter thought of the original presentation with 60 slides” and it received a good laugh.

Break the Ice.  You are welcome to use this at your next presentation.  After several speakers, it was my turn as the last one to stand at the podium.  I was the only one without a slide deck.  It was a group of first year university students.  I asked them if they were awake and to stand for a stretch.   Then I asked them to applaud.  A little louder.  I glanced at my watch and said “less than 30 seconds and I already have a standing ovation”.  That received another round of applause.

Connect with your audience or interviewer.   Bring energy.  Have fun.  Making speeches and interviews are part of being a leader and an entrepreneur,so just embrace it regardless of how good or not so good it turns out.  Most of the time it is better than you think.

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