Speaking Easy

photo: npr.org

photo: npr.org



Delivering a talk is like learning to drive in midtown Manhattan. Watch people who do it and survive-like taxi drivers. You don’t have to like them, but they do get through the traffic.


Why is it some people speak in front of groups with such ease and others falter?

Are some people just better at delivering remarks or a speech-or can anyone do it? If you or colleague are struggling with speaking, ask some questions to assist in analyzing how to be your best in front of a group.

Think about what’s happened when you’ve had to talk to a group or at an event.

  •  Are you “nervous”? Is this a real fear or lack of preparation when you have to speak?
  • What have you spoken about? Was the topic familiar? Was it scripted? What difference did these aspects make?
  • Were you asked to speak on short notice? Did you have time to prepare or not use your pre-speech time well?
  • What experiences have you had on which you can draw to improve? Think about those times you nailed a long or short presentation.


Can we enjoy speaking? Sure-just think about why the most effective speakers you experienced were so great. They tell stories. They are passionate. And they know what they are talking about. Strong presenters are comfortable in their space and the space in which they are presenting. Humor and candor are strengths they employ.


Expert media consultant Ginny Pulos has five great tips supported with terrifically practical considerations to help those seeking to “Create the Reputation You Want”. Here are some pointers from this longtime consultant and communication:


1.  Deliver your message; don’t let the message deliver you.

Pulos defines F-E-A-R as “False evidence appearing real.” Think about-what is there to be afraid of?


2. Promote yourself with integrity.

Know your audience and what is important to them, Pulos stresses.


And there’s more, including to learn from Edward R. Murrow: “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and tell ‘em what you told ‘em.” As well as “open with a grabber,” says Pulos, who provides three more powerful pointers in her blog.


Who inspires you? What speakers or actors mesmerizing? Watch, listen and learn!


As they say, you get to Carnegie Hall with “practice, practice, practice.” Memorization of poetry, the Gettysburg Address (as shown in Ken Burns’s recent documentary, a Shakespearean speech-all these are tools and preparation for your big moment. The more you speak, recite, present (instead of doing silent communication-typing, writing, being online), the better you will be. Present to your cat, your mirror, your family members. There’s alway a percentage of performance affected at curtain time, but you can increase your chances for success by “being too prepared”-that’s a good thing.


More tips and tactics:

The stalwarts of speaking, The Toastmasters, have a set of 10 Tips for Public Speaking.

Stanford Graduate School of Business shares “7 Improv and Acting Tips to Make Your Presentations More Memorable.”



About the author:  Yvonne Hudson, principal of New Place Collaborations, has been speaking and singing as long as she can remember and is still talking! When not writing, coaching, pitching and collaborating, she enjoys presenting and acting, including her solo show Mrs Shakespeare