Jargon! This is a tripping point for many speakers. One problem we all face speaking is when we begin to use jargon and assume that everyone knows what we are referring to specifically. This is commonplace in any technical presentation. In every occupation, people use jargon to speed the conversation. If you use a technical phrase or series of words constantly, it becomes a time saver if you shorten these words to an acronym or some sort of jargon. The problem comes into play when we are in a group of people who do not use the same jargon. In a group of people if someone doesn’t know what the jargon means, it is quite simple to stop the conversation and ask what a particular word or acronym means. However if you are a speaker and use jargon that some members of the audience do not understand, it can be uncomfortable or embarrassing for those audience members to stop you and ask what it means. As a result you begin to lose segments of your audience. One way to avoid this problem is to review your presentation for any unknown phrases or acronyms. Provide definitions to your audience if you must use jargon. Refer to these definitions periodically throughout your talk to help remind your audience what they mean. Also it is helpful to enlist the advice of someone not associated with your industry. Someone who is not familiar with the jargon you take for granted. Let them review what you are saying for any last remaining jargon that does not have any definitions. Every speaker wants their audience to understand their message. Why put barriers in the way of having your audience understand your message.
One measure of your speaking success will be the amount of air travel your speaking business requires. The more successful you become, the more hours your cheeks are in airline seats.
While airline travel is not the fun it once was, following these three recommendations will make it more better.
Number one: Fly one airline. If your local airport serves more than one major carrier, pick one and fly it exclusively. If you can make a choice, location of airport hubs, and locations of your major business are key picking criteria. No one airline flies everywhere, but the major carriers belong to “alliances” and surely one of the alliance carriers can get you there.
Number two: Join that airline’s Frequent Flier Program. While the last thing you may want to do as a Platinum Level flier is fly to a vacation spot, flying your partner and family there for “free” has an appeal. It rewards your family for putting up with you being on the road. And those trips aren’t free. You earned them.
Number three: Get your airline’s Lounge Card. Your journeys will entail delays and cancellations. You don’t want to deal with those in the public areas with the teeming masses; you want to deal with them in the comfort of your airline’s Lounge. You can accomplish in minutes what would take hours in Ticketing, usually while enjoying a complimentary beverage. Costs usually depend on your flying status; it may appear high to you at first, but it’s worth it, and it’s a business expense, regardless of employment type.
Few people like to fly regularly. So when you do, take advantage of every opportunity to reward yourself and you family.
If you are teaching materials in a training room environment, be on the lookout for “Stump The Chump”. “Stump The Chump” is a “game” in which one or more participants try to stump you, the Chump, showing the audience that they, not you, are the real experts, embarrassing you and inflating their own perceptions of themselves.
Left unchecked, Stump-The-Chump will, at best, cause you distraction, and, at worst, derail your entire presentation.
Care must be taken not to use excessive force on the Stumper, less the audience gain sympathy for him.
Phrases such as, “This is outside the bounds of this presentation”, and “Let’s discuss this off line” may work, but often don’t.
Here are some items to try when Stump The Chump breaks out:
- If someone asks two questions which you answered well, and then asks a third, they are Stumpers.
- With the initial outbreak, if the Stomper is on target, when done, ask them for their name (in a classroom setting, must people will have name cards), compliment them on their knowledge, and tell the audience to get their numbers because they – the stumper(s) – are experts and to call them
- When a subsequent question comes up from the audience, ask the Stumpers if they would like to answer that question. This is especially good when you don’t know the subject matter of the questions – you get to learn too.
- As you are presenting, ask the audience how the information is going down; then ask the Stumper(s) if they had encountered anything new yet? If they say yes, that’s a implied credit to you; if they say no, tell them, “Well, maybe this material is too basic for you and you should try another breakout session (or another course)”.
When you see Stump The Chump, take action; otherwise happy Chumping!
One major weak area for a speaker happens before they say their first word. The transition from when the Master of Ceremonies (MC) leaves the platform and the speaker begins to speak can be confusing for the audience. Some people are watching the MC sit down. Other members of the audience are watching the speaker come to the stage. Maybe the remaining audience members are just surfing the web on their phone because they assume nothing of importance is going to be discussed. This transition period can be either a great prelude to a speech or the waste of an opportunity. This is why introductions are so important. Every introduction should be personally written by the speaker. Do not leave this duty to the MC. Always make 2 copies with a large font size. Before the event go over your introduction with the MC and ask if there are any questions. Always keep one copy of your introduction for yourself, in case the other is lost or misplaced by the MC. As to the length and detail of your introduction that is a personal matter. My thoughts are the audience has come to hear you and not a book length version of an introduction. On the other hand, your introduction is a little bit of you so that your audience gets a hint of the essence of you and what you will speak on. With practice you will gain a feeling of the perfect length for your introduction. After the MC has read your introduction and passed the stage over to you, you wait for the MC to sit down. Then before you start to speak, mentally count to five, as you slowly gaze at the audience. This will allow the parts of the audience who are not quite paying attention to refocus on you the speaker.
Your opening is the gateway into another person’s mind. It sets the tempo and direction for everything that follows. It needs to be engaging and it has to be clear and concise. Your audience is wasting no time in making a decision whether they are willing to pay attention or not.
Would a question start the audience thinking? Should a rhetorical question or one requiring an answer be used? Do you want a non verbal response like a show of hands or would some other type of response work better? Would a quote or provocative statement work better for you?
Your opening is like opening a door and the listener is walking through the door and they are creating their own mental images, creating their own landscape, to allow them to be on the journey with you.
How will you choreograph your opening for maximum impact with your audience? Will you be stationary or moving around during the opening? Will the opening be on a motivational note or will you start low key and build the energy to a climax?
If you do not engage your audience in the beginning, it is most difficult or nearly impossible to ever get them back. Plan and practice the opening so it is strong enough to bring your audience with you throughout your speech.
Three-Two or Two-Three Rule
As a professional it is very important to begin and end on time. Whether you are speaking for ten minutes or all day, honoring the time commitment is critical.
It is eight o’clock in the morning and you have just been informed that you will be presenting your project to a group of senior managers in two hours and you have 10 minutes on the agenda. You have a confirmed appointment with you prospect for sales meeting you have schedule for tomorrow and she informs you rather than the 30 minutes that was originally schedule you now have 15 minute instead, or worse yet you are waiting to go into to the meeting and you been informed your time has been cut in half. What do you do?
Here is a rule of thumb that can keep you on track. When preparing your speech or a presentation create an outline. If you have three main points use two sub points for each or for every two main points you can have three sub points. In either case you will see it provides a clear and concise message and gives you five minutes of material. To much information clouds the topic and it is hard to stay on track. The two-three or three-two rule keeps your message clear and concise, as well as keeping you on track.
When you do not have the time or your time has been reduced this will help you to stay on track and on time. In either case you have two choices.
• First go in there and just wing it. I have seen this too many times, the unprepared ramble or they try to get all of the information in anyway, and they fail to be clear and concise in their message. It can cost you a sale and maybe a career opportunity.
• Second you take the time to define the message you what to leave them with, prepare a short intro and outline the 2 or 3 main points which are most important and have 3 or 2 sub points. You just showed your professional grasp of the subject and a professional image of yourself. It is a winning combination.
If they what more information, they will ask questions and now you are on their time not yours.