by Yvonne Perry
As a writer or author you may be asked to speak about your book or business either at a book signing or networking meeting. As a business owner, you may have to make a training presentation about the new policies or practices you are setting.
A good speech or presentation begins by knowing your audience. By curtailing your talk and content to the needs of the listeners you automatically have their attention. Before you start writing your speech, ask yourself a few questions:
* Who is my audience—are they mostly male, are they young, or are they professional businesspersons?
* What are their needs/pains/challenges?
* What do they want/need to hear?
Use Both Doors
Consider what the audience will hear and what they will see in your presentation.
Your content should be value-rich and contain your original thoughts, ideas and opinions. Be sure to do your research and give statistics to back up your information. This makes your talk more credible and people will see you as an expert on the topic. Use stories to illustrate your point and remember to use words that paint pictures in people’s minds.
When you present the speech, you will want to use appropriate hand, facial and body gestures as well as voice inflection to keep the attention on what you are saying. Monitor the audience’s response. Are they nodding, smiling or sitting up in their seats or are they yawning, looking around the room or talking to one another?
Make sure you have a catchy opening. A joke, question or story is a good way to open your speech. It sets the tone and grabs the attention of everyone in the room. Then give a short synopsis of what your speech is about. If you say you are going to give three tips about how to do something, be certain you include those three points and make a deliberate transition from one to the next. The ending should summarize what your thesis and remind the listeners of the three (or more) points you made, then wrap up with something funny or that provokes an emotion. Give a “take-home” point or call to action so the listeners think about what you have said later on.
Dress for the Occasion
Try to dress one notch higher than you anticipate your audience will. For example, if your audience is going to be wearing suits and dresses, you don’t want to show up wearing jeans—dress to match their attire. If the audience will be wearing medical scrubs, then wear corporate casual clothes.
Get some training
If you are totally uncomfortable making a training presentation or speech to a group of people, you might consider taking some acting or speaking classes. I have been in Toastmasters (http://www.toastmasters.org/) for three years and have found the practice I get in a non-threatening, educational environment very beneficial for speaking in public, making presentations or speaking one on one with a client. Not only are my thoughts more organized and my speech concise and well-articulated, I have gained confidence—not to mention great friends and networking acquaintances.