There is more to giving a speech than being able to stand in front of an audience and talk for 10 minutes…much more.
As a member of Toastmasters International for many years, I’d like to share with you 10 of my favourite tips to help you deliver your sales talk or presentation in a much more relaxed and confident manner.
One of the best ways to learn anything is when it is fun. So before even considering the tips below – remember; think professionally but don’t take yourself too seriously...or you’ll dry up. Then what happens? Your throat feels like a solid lump, you can’t swallow...or speak!
Ok, here are the top ten tips I have learnt during my years at Toastmasters International:
1. My first tip is to do what I have been very successful at: it’s no mean brag but after about 9 years of speaking in public, I’m an expert…at failing. So, if you mess up your presentation, the one you worked so hard to get right… go away and hide, sulk and scowl, if that’s what you want; feel cross, miserable…but dust yourself down, come right back out, stand in front of an audience and begin speaking again.
2. When you write out your speech, remember, a rough and ready draft can be transformed into a well-structured, polished one, it just takes revision.
3. In my early days of speaking, I was totally unaware I was doing a perfect demonstration of the quickstep, as my feet danced little side steps from where I stood. I was blissfully unaware that I appeared to be in a rocking chair, as I swayed backwards and forwards. Learn to move about only when it is relevant and you’ll learn to speak with confidence.
4. Think about the way you speak ‘off the cuff’ as you go about your daily life, in the pub, with friends…when you’re feeling relaxed and at ease. If you are called upon at short notice to speak in front of an audience, try and replicate that feeling. Participating in the impromptu ‘Table Topics’, at your local Toastmasters International meeting, is an excellent way to help improve your ‘off the cuff’ speaking.
5. Differentiate between speaking to inform, entertain or educate - by understanding your key message and what you are trying to achieve…this will help you to feel so much more confident, and go on to deliver a good sales presentation.
6. Rather than trying to impress with long words and complex sentences…bring your speech alive with some vocal variety and a few meaningful gestures...and keep words simple.
7. Emotions such as humour, sadness, excitement and anger can add colour and drama to a talk – but only when appropriate and in the right proportion.
8. Time yourself, practising out loud. If you have been asked to speak for 10 minutes, don’t ramble on for 20.
9. Accept that you are not perfect; ask for feedback from both experienced and new speakers.
10. And if there is one single message I want to leave you with, it is this: however badly you feel you’ve performed, however much you cringe with embarrassment, get right back out there and speak again in front of an audience - because I wouldn’t be writing this article if I hadn’t had to do just that.
By Sandy Eifion-Jones, Toastmasters International. Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are nearly 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7000 members. Find your local club. Follow Toastmasters on Twitter.