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.
At a recent brainstorming session with a group of speakers from the National Speaker’s Association we created a list of desirable skills, needed skills for speakers.
Read: The Full List of Skills for a Professional Speaker from that session, but not the full list of skills needed. That might be much longer, or shorter deciding on groupings.
One of the skills on the list was – can evoke emotion.
Indeed, people remember more about what they felt than what they heard at most any given time.
“Boy, did he make me mad.”
“I can’t remember exactly what he said or how he put it, but I am madder than … ”
Many of us have heard a similar exchange.
Determining the emotions is something for others to disagree about.
But I will go with: anger, fear, joy, disgust, sadness, surprise, hate and love.
With that in mind, what does it take to get our listeners to feel one or more of these emotions?
How do we make our listeners angry? Or make them hate? Or sad, surprised and so on?
The answer lies in the speaker.
The speaker must first feel the emotion. His/her words must express the feeling they have pent up inside.
“I am so mad = angry, I could, just, just scream!”
That won’t do it.
M L King was angry in his “I Have A Dream” speech. And he never screamed.
Ask yourself if you can explain why you are sad or why something so disgusts you. If the answer is yes, try it. Then try to get someone to understand you.
One of the dumbest things speakers can say is, “I am so excited.” Or “I am so happy.” Or, “This really makes me sad.”
If you are experiencing such emotions, your mannerisms – open hands, clenched fist, your words – shaking, quickened cadence, whispering and so on will come naturally to you. And it will be different for each speaker, too! Don’t mimic others, do it your way.
Be emotional and your listeners will, too. Be stolid, cold, expressionless and expect a similar response.