Public Speaking Tip #2

There are some words people say that are rampant in our society that you want to make the effort to avoid saying when you are public speaking. Recently this was brought to my attention and I was shocked.  I’d never noticed, let alone thought about it before.  Then I began to hear them falling out of my mouth and out of the mouths of others. Words that we use regularly that aren’t “real” words. Not a problem if you’re out to brunch with your friends or spending time with your family, but when you are public speaking and in front of your audience, you’d do well to avoid them. 

Spoiler alert: Most of the following aren’t real words. Gonna, wanna, kinda, lemme, gotta, shoulda, woulda, coulda and stuff.  Stuff is a real word.    

Why avoid these “words?” Just the thought of using the original words seems to take so long!  The “real” words, of course, are – going to, want to, kind of, let me, got to, should have, would have and could have.  We’ll get back to “stuff” in a moment.  Why say “going to” when I can just say gonna?  Even when I say it out loud to myself, it seems to take forever.  And don’t even get me going on “got to”!  What’s up with that?  It’s actually “have to”. 

“Gonna” is considered a “real” word, grammatically speaking, but I still encourage you to use the original wording of “going to” and all the others – when you are in front of your audience.  If you tend to speak too quickly, it will help you slow down and make you easier to understand. You avoid sounding casual, will show up as more professional and be easier to understand. If you have people in your audience where English is not their first language (which is pretty safe to assume these days), it will make you a lot easier to understand. Do you hear a theme here? Easier to understand? Yes. If you are the speaker, you want to show up as a leader and be easy to understand.  You took the time to prepare yourself and someone has entrusted you to speak to their people in a way that makes a difference, so you might as well be sure that you are easy to understand. Yes, it will take longer. Add a few seconds to the timing of your talk. Just saying.

Now, back to stuff.  The reason I suggest you avoid the word stuff is because it is very non-specific.  Again, not a problem at brunch or with the family because they probably know what your stuff is.  When you are a public speaker in front of an audience, being specific is king.  If you want a corny thing to help you remember to be specific, think – specific is terrific.  It’s corny, but I’ll bet you you’ll remember it now.  You want to be specific because the audience is not inside your head (even though they sometimes seem like they are).  They can’t see what you are seeing in your mind’s eye and relate to what you are relating to as you speak. You have to draw word-pictures for them. If you want them to listen and pay attention, you have to invite them into your world in a way they can connect with.

The next time you get to speak to an audience, just say to yourself – I ain’t gonna!  (Yes, I see the ain’t.  We’re just not going to go there).

Here is a short, fun article on other “words” you might want to avoid when public speaking.  https://www.rd.com/culture/words-that-arent-words/

Public Speaking Tip #1

You can’t just say any old thing when it’s your turn to speak – not if you want to be thought of as credible and get taken seriously.

This makes me think of a woman that spoke at a women’s business networking event that I attended.  She had 25 minutes to speak. While she has a rather compelling personal story, (I happen to know her personally) she didn’t tell it well and just rambled all over the place never making, or getting to, any point.  She also didn’t connect her story in any way to her business. It was a real missed opportunity.

Instead of leaving the audience empowered, motivated or inspired, she left them feeling somewhat sorry for her and hoping they would never have to deal with the personal health issue she shared about.

When you get an opportunity to speak before a group, consider it an honor. The host has trusted you to show up professionally before their group and expects you to deliver something relevant to the audience that will make some kind of positive difference for them.  How you show up is a reflection on the host. Hosts don’t always vet you very thoroughly, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it seriously. It’s your job as the speaker to make them look good in front of their group.

Every opportunity to get in front of an audience on behalf of your business is a golden one.  Public speaking is the best way for you to get seen, heard and known as a expert in your industry. Every time you get the chance to show up in front of an audience, you want to make the most of it.

Here are some tips to have it go well:

1. Be prepared with the 3 P’s.  Practice, practice, practice.  Practice in front of anyone you can get to listen, as often as you can – at least 10 times.

2. Record yourself and time it. You want to make sure that you say what you have to say and honor the time you’ve been given.  Don’t time it to the second. Give yourself some wiggle room to possibly say something you didn’t plan to say. Bonus points for ending a few minutes early.

3. Share something brief and personal about how you got to be the person standing before them. People love to hear your story.

4. Succinctly let them know why you are an expert in what you are talking about.  This sets up an expectation of how and why they should listen to you.

5. If you are going to offer them something at the end of your talk such as a free call, giveaway, bonus or anything else – say so early on in your talk so that they don’t feel pounced on at the end.  Before you get into the meat of your talk, mention that if they’d like to know more or get more you will tell them how at the end of your talk.

6. Have a prepared introduction and make sure that the person who will be doing it doesn’t have any questions and knows how to pronounce all the names and words.  I’ve seen many people introduce a speaker in a way that makes me think they are looking at the written introduction for the first time when they are actually introducing the speaker, which doesn’t make the speaker look as good as they could, which is their job. You can bullet point it out for them in a larger font to make it easy for them to glance and read.  

Be sure to get to the point!