Friday, July 24, 2009

The ABC's of Public Speaking - R is for Review

If you want to improve your speaking skills, you need to study and review your own presentations. When you are speaking to an audience, you can only view the experience from your own vantage point. But it is not what the speaker sees that it important, it is what is perceived by the audience that matters.

The process of evaluation is the most powerful tool that is used by Toastmasters International (see "T is for Toastmasters"... coming soon in this series). When a presenter can get timely and constructive feedback from someone who witnessed their presentation, they become aware of the little things that are working and not working in with their structured talk and their speaking style.

Ask a friend of co-worker to attend your speech and to take notes on the best and worst pieces of the overall program. If you can find someone who is an experienced speaker and / or a member or former member of Toastmasters you will receive the most useful input. A person with the speaking experience will instantly identify the areas where you can quickly improve.

If you are an executive who will be doing several presentations for your job, you may want to consider hiring a "speech coach". Investing the time and money in working with a professional coach will allow you to discover your natural speaking style and fine tune faster. Many assume that they are good speakers because they have risen up the corporate ladder, but the reality is that many executives are not nearly as good as they think they are on stage, and would benefit from the advice of a coach.

Beyond having someone else review your performance, you need to evaluate yourself. If the presentation is recorded by the organization who asked you to speak, request a digital copy of the audio or video. If the talk will not be recorded, consider bringing your own video camera and having a co-worker record you. A simple hand-held camera from the front row will give you enough of the view point you need to see yourself as the audience does. Watching yourself on video and listening to your voice will allow you to better understand what you are doing right, as well as painfully emphasize the area you must work on.

Reviewing your presentation and talking with others about your style and skills will allow you to achieve your goals to expand your presentation quality. If you never know your strength and weaknesses, you cannot improve.

Have A Great Day.


1 comment:

Ita Olsen said...

Hi Thom,
Well thought out article. It's true--no one was born an amazing communicator, especially under the duress of a presestation! Seeking assessment and techniques to improve are recommended if you want to make a big impact.