Monday, September 15, 2014

Being a Better Speaker to College Students

Whether you speak each week at your main event or occasionally.....each of us want to be a better speaker. I am not a great speaker....But....I am a good speaker. That's not meant as vain....if it's part of your job, you better work at being good. So, how do you work at being good?

Sue complimented me the other day on a presentation I had done. And, she is a tough critic for me! I said, "Why do you think it went well"? She said, "You prepare...lots of people don't prepare". She didn't mean they don't do any preparation, she meant they don't do enough. If you speak, have a set time to prepare. Then, after you have prepared, stand up in a room by yourself and "speak it". Do it just like all 20 or 500 were sitting there listening. Do it out loud. You will realize some part or idea isn't working and so you readjust on it. Then, you "speak it" again. If you don't do that you are speaking your "Rough draft". I realized that some years ago, by not speaking it out loud as I would do it, I was speaking my rough draft.

My two all time favorite College Speakers from my student days were Grady Nutt and Ed Seabough. They were both masterful story tellers. Everyone relates to stories. They remember the story, if nothing else. A story is the hook they can hang the "teachable truth" on. Think about an experience of your own or one you have read that you can share. Personal are better, if possible. Then, practice telling the story. Grady Nutt told the details in a way you could see exactly what he was talking about. Ed Seabough told me his secret.....he practiced telling the stories. Yes; he "spoke it" before he spoke.

Laugh and smile when you; don't be weird, but....smiles and laughter when appropriate go a long way. Enjoy the stories with your audience. Studies have shown audiences respond better to a speaker who smiles...weird huh? Beware of telling the same stories again and again (I struggle with that. There are just some I like to tell.) Beware of stories that always make you out to be the hero. I find students responded best to my stories where I was an idiot...and there are so many! Beware of sharing experiences students have told you that might reveal a confidence.

In short: Prepare. Speak it. Fix it. Speak it.

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