Few weeks ago I was provided with the opportunity to do a 1-1 professional talk coaching session, as part of Mozilla Tech Speakers training. Since such opportunities do not come as often, I decided to share the experience with you all, so that you can get the chance to gain some valuable knowledge like I did. This way, we all get an equal opportunity to learn, and improve. Now let us go right to the gist, below I will post my takeaways in a random order.
Lessons on Giving a Talk
Before going out to the stage or wherever you are going to speak at, ask yourself, “What is it that I love about this group of people today?” When you ask yourself this question it will give you a sense of motivation that will make you speak with more passion to your audience.
What they hear and do after your talk is what matters. When you give a talk, also try to see it as a learning opportunity for you. Ask yourself “How can I use this opportunity to learn more about my topic?”. You need to find the way to bring out your best self.
Now about keeping your audience engaged….Everything you do or say should be for them.
Mystery is a good motivator to keep people. Hold back info, build it up…then reveal.
Questions are powerful, however, one caveat of it is that, if you ask the wrong question, you might lose credibility.
Now the following I am going to share is how to use effective story telling:
1. You need to figure out what the story behind your talk is really about, and what do you want them to learn out of this (Moral). If you are not sure about what it is that your story is about, or is telling your audience, you can ask a friend to listen to it and tell you what is the moral of the story. Everyone has their own POV so of course a valid concern here is that you might get several answers to that. The key here though is to streamline your story in such a way that the moral is way to obvious and straightforward, or you can even say the moral of it yourself in the end to ensure your audience got it.
2. You NEED to increase their personal experience of what you are saying. You do that by adding details. You need to create a picture and an emotional state in your audience. To make it alive to them. You can speak of colors, smells etc.
3. Again Mystery.
Now…what do you do if you feel you are losing your audience?
One thing you could do is ask them a question. When you ask a question to an audience, something happens in their brain. Everyone takes it as if you are asking them and starts putting their brain into work. So first, by doing that you get their brain active. You can ask them to ask something to someone besides them or just ask them a question that is worth of them to think of.
Body language. – Your body language should match the story you are portraying. It has to say the same story.
If you clench your hands while talking it shows you are worried, and you are trying to comfort yourself. We call these comforters. Also using gestures such as your hands to visualize something while presenting is called illustrators.
If you are in a talk and someone asks you a tough question to make you look bad or dumb. One way you can approach it is by restating the question and asking if you got it right, by doing that the person might refine the question or say it in a way that is more understood to you, which might make you able to provide a good answer or reveal the intentions of the asker.
Now one last and handy tip. Make a post it note, draw two eyes on it. Post it wherever you want and practice speaking while looking at it. By doing so you are practicing, speaking while looking at someone’s eyes. When you look at someone’s eyes, you seem more like someone they can trust.