Speech class is now a part of life. I remember when I prepared hours to make a speech about why ships are the best form of transport, or why love was better than hate. I went to a British school—we had to wear khakis and sock garters, those were the days.
Fast forward to now.
Speech class might have been one of the most important classes. Just like we're always selling who we are, we're always speaking to convince someone of something. It's speech class amplified, except it's life.
Here are a few tips on how to communicate better. These are mostly based on what other people have told me or what I've found to work for myself and our team:
1. Paint your words on a canvas. Add different forms of color.
2. Commentate on your own stories. Introduce a character and then make a side comment of his state of mind. Like, here's Jimmy waiting for the bus (he's probably hungry too, because bus waits always stir the hunger pangs).
3. Keep your hands low when you're using them. High hands look like you’re surrendering to your own topic, like you're not sure if you should be where you're standing.
4. Use larger font sizes if you use slides. Here’s a trick, take the age of the oldest person in the room and divide it by 2. That should be your font size (so there may be a 64 year old lady listening, use 32 point font at the minimum). Worse thing do to is to read off a small notepad with the squint style.
5. If you use speaker notes (not advised), but if you do, use big font there too so you can read it sans squinty eyes.
Story Telling Always. People dive into stories, they acknowledge stats. Make people dive deep into the story.
6. Point out the obvious mishap and swing it positive. If there's a mistake or fumble on stage. Point it out. If you act like it's not there, the audience begins to spend all their time focusing on whether or not you noticed your own flop or fumble. For example if you accidentally show the same slide twice in a row, "Yeah this is really important so I put it in there again. And it may come up again because that's how important it is.” OR “Oh yeah, this is that new Duplicate Slide Function that they’ve integrated into powerpoint, I couldn’t resist using it a few times."
7. Subtly let people know about your clout and experience (if you must). Listing your awards and degrees before you speak chokes out your presentation and is pretty distasteful. Rather recall scenarios of "when you were sitting with the Africa Director of Coca Cola and drive home point."
8. If you're boring yourself, you’re probably boring your listeners. Cut it short and end.
9. Have your first two points or illustrations memorized. Or memorize it all if you can.
10. Never say "I've got a lot to cover.” People from the age of 30 and downwards will already be frustrated with you.
With that last point. I'm done.
(photo via daniel montemayor)