To public speak or not to public speak….that is the question

My week started off with my youngest son having to give a speech at his eight grade graduation awards ceremony.  I think I was for sure  more nervous than he was.  He stayed up late and “crammed” (a chip off the old block) to get the perfect, thoughtful, and humorous speech to deliver to his classmates and families.   I was both astonished and proud of his work.  He delivered a concise, thoughtful, and very humorous speech.  He made eye contact, he hesitated at the right places to get the proper affect.  He solicited the proper laughs.  He engaged the audience and included all of his classmates.  On the way home, I asked him if he was nervous to get up and speak in front of a room full of people.  His response, “No Dad, I had it all the way.” Hmm

In the second part of the week I watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.  Oprah interviewed Shawn Achor a Positive Psychology Expert form Harvard University.  I was captivated by this interview and needed to learn more about him so I found him on You Tube.  Wow, what a public speaker!  He is witty, engaging, entertaining and most importantly he teaches. What a great public speaker.  Then I thought….are public speakers born, or is this something we can learn and become skilled at?

I personally have never had trouble talking in front of people, and the reality is that at some point in all of our lives we will need to public speak – for work, coaching a team, a eulogy.  I hear so many of my colleagues who say they struggle with public speaking and how hard it is to silent the constant noise in their heads and find the confidence to get their ideas across.  So where else would I look but on the TED website to find the 7 Public Speaking Points from the most popular TED Talks thanks to   Jeremey Donovan, a TEDx organizer and the author of new book “How to Deliver a TED Talk: Secrets of the World’s Most Inspiring Presentations.” So here it goes…

Present a clear, focused message – Know what you want to say

Keep it short and to the point – The crazy popular TED talks have a strict time limit of 18 minutes

Format your presentation as a hero’s journey or premise-driven narrative – tell a story…beginning, middle and end or offer a handful of illustrations and then wrap it up at the end.

Do not use slides – You’re looking for a connection, not presenting a lecture

Bring your audience through a broad range of emotions – live your presentation, don’t “sell” it

Use humor strategically – laughter relaxes the audience and encourages connection and rapport

Embrace the power of the pause – silence is powerful whether it be to give accent to a particular point, add dramatic flair, or linger on an idea

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