Better Speaking Naturally (Not Through Chemistry)

I work hard on my speaking skills–not just how I present myself on the platform, but also the content of what I say, and how I present that. I’ve almost converted to Keynote, but occasionally still use PowerPoint.

For AYE, we don’t use any PowerPoint (or equivalent) at all. Here’s why. If you scroll down, you’ll see Dwayne’s reference to Life After Death by PowerPoint by Don McMillan, an engineer turned comic. (I laughed out loud.)

At Better Software, I’m doing an hour-long thing (not quite a full workshop, but much more interactive than an hour talk) about how to be a better speaker. I was going to mention all the points Don makes, but I might just play the video.

Some of the additional points I was going to make are:

  • Don’t drone on about you or your company. Set the context in less than 30 seconds.
  • Make eye contact with the people in your audience.
  • Use a microphone.
  • Understand that the people in the audience want you to succeed. You don’t have to think about them as naked (icky, yucky, blech), just as people.
  • Market your session all through the conference.

Do you have any pet peeves about speakers? Anything else I should make sure to include?

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About Johanna Rothman

I help managers and leaders do reasonable things that work.
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2 Responses to Better Speaking Naturally (Not Through Chemistry)

  1. Don’t say “Sorry” if you think you have messed up.
    This relates to your fourth point that the audience wants you to succeed. Most audiences are very forgiving and if you mess up, they really don’t care. Just pause, take the time to find where you are, collect your thoughts (which is another very good point, pausing it good, it gives the audience a chance to catch up) and continue like nothing happened.
    I have seen far too many excellent presentations and presenters ruined by thinking they need to apologize when they “mess up” in the middle of a presentation.

  2. Chris Sims says:

    Practice!
    The single best thing you can do is practice your presentation a few times. First, go through it out loud (really, out loud) by yourself. Make sure that the length, pacing, and transitions seem good. Next, you want to get as close to the real thing as possible. Practice in the same room that you will be presenting in. Use the exact same equipment that you will use on the big day. Get some friends, a mentor, or your manager to listen to your practice session and give you feedback. Doing this will make you much more confident on the big day. The presentation will go smoother and your audience will have a more positive opinion of you and the material you are presenting.

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