Guest Post: Fred Miller, No Sweat Public Speaking

“None of us is as smart as all of us, that’s why it’s always great to hear what fellow professionals have to say.  So I am delighted to have a guest post this week from my American buddy Fred Miller.”

Do you now, or have you ever played, organized sports?  If so, did you just show up to play on game day?  Of course not!

How about playing music?  If you were, or are now, a musician, do you just come to concerts when your performance is scheduled?  Of course not!

If you had any success, I’ll bet you Practiced a lot – correct?

The best of the best, in any given field, do well and make it look easy because theyPractice – Practice – Practice.

This is also true for those who deliver great presentations.

Practicing: It’s not just for musicians and athletes!

Steve Jobs, Apple, takes a back seat to no one when it comes to Keynote Presentations.  He is at ease, conversational, engaging and rocks the audience.  His famous Keynotes, where he introduces new apple products and services, generally last less than an hour.  However, he fine tunes and practices these for not hours, not days, but for weeks!

Parts of his presentations appear to be off-the-cuff and spontaneous.  They are not. Everything is rigorously rehearsed.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his best selling book, “Outliers,” says it takes 10,000 hours to become an Expert.  That number of hours is not a misprint!

I read that book after the 2007 Olympics and immediately thought of Michael Phelps, the American swimming champion who won 16 Olympic medals.  When growing up, if he wasn’t in school or sleeping, he was probably in the pool practicing.

So, for you to deliver better presentations:

Practice Specifics:

NonVerbal Communication

  • Eye Contact
    • Show sincerity and honesty.
      • Maintain eye contact with one person until finishing one thought
  • Facial Expressions
    • Show emotions that are in sync with your message.
  • Gestures
    • A good fist-pump (Yes!), smack to the forehead (Oh, no!), or cupping of the ear (Can’t hear you) can deliver a message without words.  Combining them with words helps the audience GET IT! and enhances your delivery.
  • Posture
    • Indicates self confidence and leadership.
      • Shoulders back and stand erect.
  • Body Movement
    • The way you move can show confidence in your competence.
      • Move deliberately, returning to the “X” spot where most of your presentation is presented from.
      • Don’t walk back and forth like a ping-pong ball being played.

Verbal Communication

  • Pronunciation and Enunciation
    • Speak clearly and distinctly, being aware that even if the audience can hear you, they must also understand your words.
    • People who tend to mumble or have accents need to be keenly aware of this.
  • Projection
    • Talk to the last person in the auditorium.  If an audio system is needed, but sure you practice with it.
    • Don’t shout.  The audience won’t respond favorably to it and it will hurt your voice.
  • Inflection
    • Vary which word(s) in a sentence you “punch.”  The entire meaning of a sentence can be changed by the purposeful inflection of different words.  Be certain to inflect the word that delivers the meaning you want the audience to receive.
  • Cadence
    • Don’t talk so quickly the audience misses things, nor so slowly they tune you out.
    • Vary the speed of your delivery.
  • Pause
    • Pause to get the attention of the audience, then deliver!
    • Pause to let the audience digest what you just delivered.

Important: Delivery Trumps Content.

NonVerbal Communication Trumps Verbal Communication.

Keep this in mind when practicing.

Memorize key sections, and work hard on “sticky spots.”  If they remain “sticky”, rephrase them.

Practice using:

  • Video
    • It’s the best way to see how you look and sound.
      • Watch it with a friend who will be honest with you in their critique.  It’s a bit like being your own editor.  You won’t see and hear things that others will.
  • Audio
    • A good digital recorder will allow you to hear all the elements of verbal communication.
  • In front of a mirror
    • Practice eye contact, facial expressions, gestures and posture.  They need to be magnified for large audiences.
  • In front of friends and family
    • Ask, “What three things can I do to improve my presentation?”  (If you just ask, “How can I Improve, you probably won’t get as much helpful advice.”)
  • Out loud
    • Listen as you speak to the quality of your voice.
    • Practice sticky spots and revise if necessary.
  • In your mind’s eye
    • Practice your presentation.
    • See everything
      • How you are presenting and feeing as you present.
      • How the audience is reacting to your presentation.

If your presentation includes Slides, practice ad-nauseam with them!

  • It’s best to have a remote control with a “B” (blank the screen) Button on it.
  • Hopefully, your slides have high quality graphics and very little text.
    • You supply the text and your presentation will be better!  (It takes lotsof practice!)

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good.  It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
–  Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

About Fred Miller

I am a serial entrepreneur – I have owned, or been a partner in,
six successful businesses.

My expertise and passions are:
Public Speaking and Mind Mapping.




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