Authors who are invited to speak about their books and related topics at
associations, organizations, and corporations can create and deliver talks
that generate positive results with the help of these 10 simple tips.
Tip #1. Understand your audience.
To whom are you speaking? What specific information are they seeking? This is your “carrot.” As early as possible in your presentation, assure listeners that you will deliver what they want to know.
Tip #2. Start at the end.
In school, we wrote papers with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Each paragraph started with a topic sentence to be supported by facts and statistics. Although a good presentation follows the same easy, 1-2-3 organization, it differs in a few key respects. Primarily, write your conclusion first, simply because this is the only part of your talk that most people will remember. When you begin work on your talk, ask yourself what action you want your audience to take as a result of your talk, then address this action powerfully at the close.
Tip #3. Engage your listeners.
While our teachers had to read our reports, your audience may zone out. Want an easy, surefire technique for capturing their attention? Tell a story. Stories are popular because they help listeners relate your information to their own experiences or visualize a situation in a memorable way. Use stories to underscore key points throughout your talk–the same way you use facts and statistics.
Tip #4. Make your presentation interactive.
To get your audience involved instantly, begin with a question or ask for a show of hands. If it’s appropriate, use this technique throughout your presentation. Remember, your objective is to communicate with, not talk at, your audience.
Tip #5. Employ vocal variety to enhance interest.
Most of us automatically vary our pitch, speed, and volume when telling stories to children. Even though the members of your audience are probably decades older, you’ll do a better job of holding their interest if you load your words with emotion. (Tip: Use onomatopoeia, the naming of a thing or action by imitating the sound associated with it–as with buzz, boom, and hiss.)
Tip#6. Repeat phrases to encourage retention.
When creating a magazine, the designer skillfully uses headlines, paragraphs, and spaces between sentences to direct the reader’s eye. When you speak, listeners must decipher all the breaks and emphases themselves–even as they mentally race to keep up with what you’re saying. Help them retain more by repeating key phrases. The best phrases to repeat come in two varieties: (1) signposts (“My first point is….” or “First, we will….” and “Now that we’ve discussed… let’s move to….”) and (2) messages, especially messages that rhyme (as in “walk the talk”), or turn a phrase into a cheer (a speaker who’s trying to help an audience find items on the Internet might call out “Keyword search!” over and over).
Tip #7. Use gestures to add visual interest and enhance retention.
Instead of standing stiffly behind the lectern with their hands at their sides, good speakers routinely use natural gestures. But they also determine in advance how
gestures can underscore their spoken points. For example, if you’re talking
about how disparate parts of a global enterprise can work together, bring your hands together in a “handshake” position to demonstrate solidarity. Or to underscore your numerical phrases, raise a single finger when announcing your first point, two fingers for your second, and so on.
Tip #8. Prepare visual aids to enhance retention and stimulate interest.
Listeners remember more when information is presented visually as well as orally, and the most convenient visual aid is your body. Leave the lectern and get in front of your audience. Try to use your whole body when telling a story. Pantomime anecdotes for added richness and visual interest.
Tip #9. Use PowerPoint with care.
If you do decide to use PowerPoint, practice until you can speak to the audience–not your slides. And remember that slides with an image and a key word or phrase work better than slides with several long sentences.
Tip #10. Create an emotional bond with your audience.
At the end of your presentation, listeners may have trouble remembering your PowerPoint slides or your carefully organized points. But if you believe in your subject and convey this belief through the tone of your voice and the way you look at your audience, you’ll connect with them emotionally and they’ll retain your message. Be sincere. Be yourself. And you will be remembered.
PMA-U speaker Marisa D’Vari offers free e-books and articles on selling books through TV, radio, and print media along with tips on public speaking at http://www.GetBookedNow.com. This month only, she is offering a PMA special package when you invest in either one of her books, “Media Magic: Profit and Promote with FREE Media Placement” or “Presentation Magic: Dazzle and Deliver Talks with Confidence.” For details, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with “PMA Special Info” in the subject line.