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Speaking Like A Pro
by Chuck Reaves

Professional speakers make it look so easy. They saunter out onto the stage, grab the audience with their first words and the hour goes by quickly. They amuse, challenge and inspire the people in the audience with their stories, they make people think and they end with a powerful, funny or poignant close. The members of the audience applaud and sometimes even stand as they do.

Then it is your turn to speak to the same people. Uh-oh.

Your message can be as effective, less effective or more effective than the one delivered by the professional. The secret is to use some of the same tricks of the trade that make professional speakers seem so, well, professional.

How can you make your next presentation even more effective? Most of the answers are in the first paragraph above. There are several key words that will help you.

The first is that they seem to saunter, they walk out with confidence. The audience wants you to appear confident so they can relax. You may be nervous – most professional speakers are as well. Walk with confidence even if your knees are knocking together.

They grab the audience with their first words. Know your opening line. Under no circumstances is your first word to be "Uh"!

The time goes by quickly because the presentation is organized in a logical fashion, the audience knows where it is going and they flow with the presentation.

They amuse, challenge and inspire because they know what amuses, challenges and inspires the people in the audience. Their material is relevant. There is no substitution for tailoring a presentation. This is why professional speakers spend so much time doing this.

The people in the audience are who we speak to, NOT the audience. When you speak to an audience of 100 people, you deliver 100 different presentations. When we speak to individuals instead of a sea of faces, we begin to see when we are being effective and when we are not. We know how well our message is being received.

People think. That is the highest compliment a speaker can receive, "You made me think." Thinking always precedes actions. Thinking precedes new ideas and addressing new opportunities. We want to make people think about our words.

They end with a powerful, amusing or poignant close. Know how you will end your presentation. Here is a peek into the world of professional speaking. Here are some ideas you can use to make your presentation style appear more professional.

Every presentation has a purpose. The better the speaker understands it, the better the audience will understand it. So, the first step is to decide what the primary purpose of your presentation will be. Here are some of the choices: inform, entertain, introduce, announce, warn, motivate, stimulate, educate or any combination of these.

One of the best ways to determine the purpose of your presentation is to answer this question:

"What do you want the people in the audience to know or to be able to do as a result of this presentation?"

[Here's an inside secret you may not know: professional speakers often have multiple purposes, some overt, some subliminal. We will drive home the message of the presentation and also stimulate people to seek more information and maybe buy our tapes, demonstrate that we have additional material that can be used for another presentation on another date, etc.]

Establish Territory – Own the Stage (or the front of the room)

Subliminally, you will communicate that you are in charge when you command the physical environment in which you are speaking. Here are some do's and don't's.

Walk aroundJust stand in one place, especially behind the lectern
Walk to a point, stop and speakWander around, don't dance behind the lectern
Make use of hand gesturesStand like a statue or put hands in pockets
Use pointers, etc. deliberatelyFiddle with things in your hand

Copyright Chuck Reaves. All Rights Reserved.

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