One of the traits of a poor speaker is not accurately planning his or her talk to end on time. It must be remembered that the audience is not on your schedule. As much as you might like the limelight, it’s good to leave on an upbeat note.
If your agreement is to speak for 40-minutes and have 5 for questions, don’t think you are doing them a favor by giving more information as a bonus. 45 and off the stage! Here are some tips to accomplish this:
1. Rehearse then rehearse some more. Don’t assume you can write some notes and “wing” how long it will run.
2. Don’t trust your internal circadian rhythm to sense when your time is up; get a small analog clock and put it on the dais where you can glace at it. Don’t use your watch. The room may be too dark and it looks tacky.
3. If you get bogged down in questions, you still need to finish on time. Reply that “we are short on time, but I can meet you offstage after.” Those that have other engagements will appreciate this.
4. If you are approaching the 40 minute limit with 3 more thoughts to go on your prepared talk – just wrap it up then and end it. The audience will have no clue that you didn’t cover your last slides. Show flexibility and deliver a creative closing.
When you are in a missionary mode and trying to land speaking gigs, it’s easy to lose track of all the little shards of paper with contact info. From the git-go, use an organized method. ACT is one that many use. It’s a robust Customer Relations Management (CRM) package. I did not learn about it until I was well into the speaking world. I had kept all my contacts in a WORD document. Funky, but it works for me. The task of transferring all the contact data overwhelmed me, so I didn’t. Kinda dumb, but the rainy day never came to do this.
When I bought ACT ($269 for basic package) I saw that it was a great organization tools. it would allow you to pinpoint every contact you make with a prospect. You can get reminders to follow up with courtesy emails. This is invaluable to keep you on their radar. Current customers are also able to be followed.
Whatever you chose, do it early in your quest for speaking assignments. I have to use the WORD “find” tool to get to mine.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said the Speaking is man’s worst fear – #2 is dying. ..so if you are giving a funeral eulogy, you are safer to be in the casket.
Humorous, but not too far off the mark. In my family growing up, with 5 kids, if you didn’t jump into a conversation and LOUDLY, you got passed over. Now all of my siblings can command an audience in public. Our sense of humor is another asset. Keep your talks light and fun for the audience.
If you are a newbie to the circuit – take classes in public speaking. ANYTHING can be learned. Besides formal classes, I endorse Toastmasters as a great way to get over your fears. another service that I can personally recommend is the Dale Carnegie Program. Both are super.
The other way to build skill is to rehearse your talk. Time it. Video yourself and have a honest third party give you comments. Relatives and close friends may be too “nice” to you and not give you what you need. Audio record you talk and listen to it in the car while driving. The idea here is to know your material and not have to stop and think what comes next.