The Art of Living Out Loud

The Pursuit of Meaningful Work and Joyful Living

The Art of Living Out Loud (VeeSomphon.com) is a personal development blog that offers original high quality articles on meaningful work, joyful living and taking smart risks. The blog is a one-woman labor of love of Vee Somphon, former journalist, Asian American writer and management consultant.

9 Public Speaking Tips for the Solopreneur

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In the course of my career, I have listened in on hundreds of talks and spent almost equal amount behind the podium.  I have listened and learned from well-known figures of our day.  Malcolm Gladwell, Suze Orman, Marie Osmond, and Kurt Warner are the few who readily came to mind.  I have also attended presentations given by local politicians, leadership experts, and senior executives and colleagues from Fortune 100 companies.  If what they say is true – that a good writer learns to be good by reading a lot of books, then same must hold true for public speaking.  You become a good speaker by being audience to a lot of good and bad ones.

I don’t think any readers of my blog are guilty of the following sins, but please feel free to pass this post on to colleagues who are committing these offenses. 

Do's

1.  Tell the audience the key points you will be covering.  At a recent talk by a branding expert, she covered so much ground in such a rambling fashion that towards the end of the presentation I forgot what the original topic was.

2.  Create a structure.  Have a beginning, middle, and an end to your presentation.  Connect the dots for your audience.  To put it in another way that is more familiar to you:  a) tell them what you are going to tell them; b) tell them; c) then tell them what you just told them.

3.  Pump up your energy level.  At a talk given by a sales expert, his voice often trailed off and then quite noticeably, he squeezed his eyes tight like he was forced to summon the lost contents of his presentation in some dusty memory bank.  He came across unprepared. (Perhaps it might have helped if he had presentation slides on hand).

4.  Promote your talk by creating a unique Twitter hashtag related to your topic and encourage participants to tweet during your presentation.  I learned this from Marketing Consultant Michael Hunter at a Tech Phoenix talk over the weekend.

Don'ts

1.     Don’t chew gum.  It really undermines your authority, and most people do not look attractive doing it.

2.     Don’t have fonts so small that the audience can only see your slides with a magnifying glass.

3.     Don’t read your slides word for word.  It creates the impression that you don’t know your topic.  It undercuts your authority.

4.     Don’t chastise the audience members for not knowing the who’s who in your industry or what book you deemed as “the Bible” in your industry.  We came to hear you talk because we don’t know.  If we did, you would be out of a job.

5.     Don’t say you suck at public speaking.  It’s okay to admit to the audience that you are nervous but if your goal is to establish yourself as an authority, it’s hard for the audience to take you seriously when you show such lack of self-confidence

What advice would you give for better public speaking?

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