Public Speaking – Three Tips for Delivering Your Content to a “Live” Audience

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a trade industry conference with one of our clients. The topics varied, from using apps to advance relationships with customers to upcoming standards changes. Although interesting, my takeaway from the conference was less on what was covered and more on how the content was covered. 

Public speaking is very difficult – to be successful, it’s not just about delivering the right content, but it’s also about delivering the content right. During the conference, several of the presenters struggled to stay on the topic they were given, and when they were on topic, they had trouble delivering their points in a logical flow. These rambling presentations were painful for the audience to sit through, and I suspect that the presenters themselves were extremely uncomfortable with it too. 

It’s too late to go back and help last week’s presenters “fix” their presentations, but I can offer up a few tips to help them (and you!) to be more successful next time. 

Here are three things anyone can do to prepare for their next public speaking event…

  • Identify the focus of your presentation and outline the points you want to make.
    •  Rambling is what happens when the speaker is both self-indulgent and unorganized. As a presenter, you need to make sure that your purpose and prose are specifically directed to interests of your listeners. 
      • Know your audience which will make sure that the topic is truly of interest.
    • Remember, even if you are on target with your message, you will quickly lose your audience if they can't follow the logic of your ideas. 
      • Outline the structure of your presentation in a way that makes sense and can easily be followed. 
  • Incorporate a leave-behind or key takeaway into your presentation.
    • Don’t close your presentation until you’ve given the audience something, a “golden nugget” of wisdom, to remember you/your presentation by.
      • Make it relevant to your presentation and remind them of an action they could/should take. 
        • Be clever but appropriate. 
  • Practice, practice, practice.
    • Before you deliver your speech to a “live” audience, test it out on a group of your peers (your co-workers, your family, your friends) for feedback.
      • Conduct a litmus test on your speech: Does it address the topic you were given? Is it educational? Is it heavily promotional or too generic? What value does it provide to the listener? Are all the critical points included? What other details have you included? Are those details relevant to the topic?
      • Connect with your audience. The more personal and authentic you are, the more powerful the response you'll receive. Make sure to incorporate “Aha!” moments to make your speech memorable.
      • Refine your delivery based on what you hear back from your test group.
    • If you are incorporating audio or visual components in your presentation, make sure your test runs include these elements.
      • What the audience hears and sees in your presentation is just as important as the content you are delivering to them.
      • Make sure you can present the content in your speech without the use of audio/visual aids. Technology has a way of wreaking havoc on the best plans.

While these tips may seem like a lot of work before you even step on the stage to present, preparing and practicing are the simplest ways for you to instantly improve your public speaking skills…and increase your chances of delivering a success presentation.