How many times have you sat in a speech or presentation and just hoped that someone would come by and put you out of your misery? Yet, there were other presentations that were fun, engaging and time flew by.
The most likely difference between the speakers was the use of humor. Humor is a powerful tool that will add life and fun to any speech.
The great part about the use of comedy is that it is a learned skill. Many comedians actually teach classes on the structure of comedy. As you make a conscious decision to add humor to your speech, you do get better at determining what is funny and what is not. YouTube is a great place to watch snippets of famous comedians and determine how they do it.
So make a choice: Do you want to be funny or not? Have you heard the joke about..?
The power of the group!
If you are a professional speaker, an aspiring professional speaker or simply a speaking professional, there are 2 organizations that you should join. One group deals with the business of speaking and the other deals with the practice of speaking. Now I know that the speaking professional, someone who speaks for their profession or business but does not receive compensation for that speaking event, will say that they don’t mind joining an organization to become a better speaker but why join an organization that deals with the business of speaking. The answer is simple. One day you as a speaking professional might want to monetize your content. If you may want to make money from your content, you do fall into the category of a professional speaker.
The first association you need to join is the National Speakers Association, http://www.nsaspeaker.org/ . They are a national group with local chapters. Here in Georgia I am a member of Georgia chapter of National Speakers association, http://www.nsageorgia.org/. This is the place where you form business relationships, personal friendships and acquire the knowledge concerning the business of speaking. Every dollar you spend on dues you will reap many times more in what you receive back. It is the best bang for your dollar you can hope for.
The second association deals with the practice of speaking. You do mini-speeches in front of small groups. Learn the art of evaluations. Practice new ideas and receive feedback on the these ideas. All this for the price of a weekly small cup of coffee. This organization has served hundreds of thousands of individuals who want to improve their speaking and leadership abilities for close to 100 hundred years. This association is Toastmasters International, http://www.toastmasters.org/ , and you may find a meeting close to you.
If you are truly interested in becoming a better speaker than you must join these two groups!
Words ever so true!
Many years ago, someone complimented me on my use of pauses during a speech. I stuttered when I was young. My speech therapist suggested that whenever I started to stutter, I should simply stop speaking. Then…collect my thoughts…relax… and proceed slowly again. Today, I use that same technique as a powerful tool.
One of the mistakes new speakers make is not allowing the audience time to think about what they just said. An important point in a speech needs time to be thought about. Many professional speakers as they approach an important point will give a quick pause, then make their point and follow this with a 3-5 second pause.
At first, many speakers are uncomfortable with doing this. I suggest in your practice time to exaggerate the length of a pause…say make it 8-12 seconds. Afterwards as you give your speech to a live audience, a 3-5 second pause will not be that uncomfortable.
One question that many speakers ask me is, “How long do you practice your speech?” My answer, “however long it takes!”
Winston Churchill once remarked that he practiced one hour for every minute of actual speaking time. In my case I practice in short blocks of time over a space of many days or even weeks. I personally feel that you can never practice too much. The more I practice, the more natural and comfortable my presentation feels to me.
Secondly, this extra practice time allows my mind to think of different words or phrases to use to say the same thing. Even different ideas will come to my mind. How many times have you after you spoken with someone said, “Gee, I wish I would have said this rather than that?”
Practice lays the groundwork for your speech. That is why you can never practice too much!
When you begin the construction of your presentation or speech, you may be filled with a host of ideas you want to bring forth. Having many ideas is never a problem but the transition from one idea to the next is always critical. Picture the flow of a river. As you travel down a river, you can experience various levels of water turbulence. You may at one point have a very smooth and gentle river. Yet, a little further down the river you come upon rapids that might threaten to capsize your boat. This can happen several times during your journey, where you go from smooth waters to rough waters and back again. However, picture a different river. This river has you going to the shoreline after every mile, getting out of your boat and then deciding how to proceed to the next part of the river. Your whole journey is a constant getting out of the boat and getting in the boat and having to struggle with not knowing exactly where you are going. For most people, they would prefer the first river even though they may experience the dangerous rapids. Your audience is the same way, they crave a smooth transition from one idea to the next, even if the idea is turbulent. Don’t make them mentally get of the boat to figure out where they are going next.