I just ran across this article by Nick Morgan over on Forbes.com. It’s got some great tips for effective public speaking. A couple of them were especially helpful — and one of them was… well… REALLY bad!
In Tip #1, “Don’t take on a technical problem alone,” Nick mentions the idea of asking, “Are there any computer experts in the room?” when we have tech issues during a presentation.
Pretty much any audience these days will include at least one techy-geek person, so you’re sure to get help much faster than you might expect. The cool thing is, that — by asking one simple question — you’re also getting the audience involved in the problem. They want you (and the techy-geek) to succeed! Use it as a team-building exercise! (Seriously, it works… I’ve seen it happen!) And, more importantly, your audience members won’t feel like they’re being left in the dark when you’re suddenly distracted by a computer.
Tip #7 is another one of my favorites (and a pet peeve!): “If someone asks a question, the most important response is to repeat the question, clarifying it for the whole audience.” I have a tendency to sit in the back of the room at workshops… it’s weird, I know… but that’s what I do. I like to people-watch, and this gives me the best means to do so. Those of us in the back can’t always hear somebody up front who’s asking the facilitator a question. In my (not-so-humble) opinion, it absolutely 100% the responsibility of the speaker to ensure that everybody in the audience understands what’s going on 100% of the time. This means, repeating the questions… then answering. Every time.
So, I was nodding my head enthusiastically all the way through the article . . . until the very last point . . . #10 “Close with ‘thank-you’ and wait for the audience to applaud.”
You want me to WHAT ? ! ? !
ANY self-respecting, public (and professional!) speaker KNOWS that we NEVER, EVER end a speech with “thank you!” To do so would be like… like… well… I’m SO flabbergasted that I can’t even think of a clever example! Nevertheless, there’s no better way to turn your audience OFF than to end a speech with “thank you.” It’s unimpressive, boring, and less-than-memorable. What about the message they’re supposed to walk away with?
Hall of Fame Speaker & Executive Speech Coach, Patricia Fripp, is well-known for her fabulous — and extremely effective — speech openings & closings. Her closing suggestions include:
- Finish the “end of the story”
- Circle with the opening
- End with a challenge
- Wrap it up with a call-to-action
I’ve experienced Fripp’s trainings & presentations dozens of times — and trust me, she’d never just say ‘thank you.’ She’s much more creative! And, more importantly, she cares too much about her message to do something like that!
Professional Speaker & Speaking Coach, Rob Christeson, on his his blog, shared what I think is the best — and most understandable — suggestion for beginning & ending a speech:
“You should open your presentation with your second strongest material, and close with your best material. You can’t do that if you just stop before you get to your conclusion. Practice your conclusion, watch your time, and avoid extra content in the middle. Don’t drop it off of the end.”
That says it all, doesn’t it?
If ‘thank you’ is the best material you’ve got, then it’s time to start over and write a completely new speech!
Nicely said, Rob! Sounds like Nick over at Forbes.com could learn a few things from you! :o)