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10 January
20:19
12 January
14:30

I suppose the real question there should be ‘What is the secret to good or great public speaking?’! And, in that case, I have five quick points to give you.

First of all, be yourself. Find your own style for when you’re presenting. So, if you don’t usually wear a suit, don’t feel as though you need to put one on especially. Don’t try to copy your favourite TED speaker. Just be yourself, and find a style that works best for you. In my view, authentic people connect better with audiences.

"Think about what the one thing is that you want the audience to talk away with. If you nail that, then it changes your speech completely."

Secondly, when you’re planning your talk, use plain paper to plan it. Do a bit of a mind-map to get your ideas down. People tend to go straight to PowerPoint and often end up with something that’s very dull, so get away from the computer and use paper or a flipchart to plan your ideas.

The third one is to get to the core of your message. The reason that talks can be dull is that people tell you absolutely everything they know about that particular subject. So think about what the one thing is that you want the audience to walk away with. If you nail that, then it changes your speech completely.

"Be 125% when you’re speaking. Be 100% you, and be 25% bigger for the stage. In other words, be a little bit bigger than you are in real life."

The fourth piece of advice is to tell more stories. According to some fairly well-known research by the cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner, telling a story makes your talk 22 times more memorable than one where you’ve not told a story. Stories make your message stick. Even if it’s an academic talk, people want to hear a story rather than just being given information. And relating something from your own experience is always easier than adapting someone else’s story. For instance, if I were doing a talk on customer service, I would think about occasions where I’d been treated really well – or really badly – in a shop, and relate that to the audience, rather than just quoting facts or figures. Telling a story makes a massive difference.

Finally, be 125% when you’re speaking. Be 100% you, and be 25% bigger for the stage. In other words, be a little bit bigger than you are in real life. So make your stories bigger, make your body language a little more exaggerated – without it looking ridiculous – and make your voice a little louder than usual. Being just that little bit bigger means that you’ll become more engaging.

Lee Jackson is President of the Professional Speaking Association.

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