How to Speak Like a Pro

Public speaking is a challenging endeavor. Even the experts get a few butterflies before hitting the stage. Whether you shrink from the mic or relish any opportunity to work a room, follow these five tips to avoid coming off like an amateur.

  1. Cut the Long-winded Intro: People will tune out if you make them listen to a lengthy bio. Whether you’re giving a keynote at a conference, a TEDx talk to a general audience, or a breakout session for a small group, it’s not about you. It’s about the audience. Keep your introduction short and cut the clichés. Instead of telling people you are honored to be there, show them with your well-prepared presentation.
  2. Don’t Rely on Slides: At best, slides are back-up dancers. They are not your talk. You are! If you must use slides make them visually pleasing and supportive of your message. Once you give an audience a word-filled slide, they stop focusing on you and beginning reading.
  3. Watch The Clock:Never exceed your allotted time. Professionals end on time. Know your talk so well that if asked, you could adjust your time to help the meeting planner get back on schedule.
  4. Embrace Low Tech:Having embedded video and web links can jazz up your presentation, but for every bell and whistle added you exponentially increase the risk of something going wrong. Be prepared to give you talk even if there’s a total technology failure.
  5. Never End with a Q&A: Always control the ending of your talk. When you insert a Q&A at the end you literally hand over the mic and risk your time on stage ending in with an irrelevant point, off topic question, or worse rebuttal to your message. You can take questions and should engage with the audience, but have a final point to share before leaving the stage.

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