The PASS Summit is coming up at the end of this month; thus, public speaking is on my mind. This has inspired me to make this week’s 5 Tips for Friday about public speaking. These tips don’t just apply for conferences, big or small, they also apply to any public speaking you may do, like a presentation to your office mates at work.
- Know your stuff: Hopefully, you will have an engaged audience who is deeply interested in what you are saying. If so, there will definitely be questions. Be prepared to be asked about things not in your session. Your knowledge on the subject should be much broader than simply what you are presenting.
- No B.S.: As I said above, you will get questions. No matter how prepared you are, you will get questions to which you don’t know the answer. That’s okay. Just be honest about what you know and what you don’t know. If you try to fake it, people will pick up on it and you will lose all credibility. Tell them you don’t know but offer to find out. Exchange email addresses with them after the presentation or write a blog post about it. Just be honest.
- Timing matters: Be ready to start at the appointed time. This means getting there early so you can be ready to go. Get your stuff set up and be on time. When you finish is equally important. You want to finish a little early so people can ask questions without having to stay over time. And if you’re at a conference, someone else needs to get set up where you are. You don’t want to make them late or your attendees late for their next session.
- You’ve got nothing to prove: You’re the presenter, and they are already there to see you. You don’t need to prove how much you know by using big words and overly-technical terms. Speak plainly. A good teacher is one that can be understood easily. If you over-complicate things, you’re not being a good teacher.
- Get/be a mentor: If you are new to public speaking, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are presenting on a topic and know someone who is a real expert on that topic, ask them if they will review your presentation for errors. Ask them if they are willing and able to sit in on the presentation. It will give a boost of confidence knowing that someone is there to back you up, someone that you can turn to if you need some technical help. It would also be a big plus if they are an experienced speaker, and can help you if someone tries to derail the session.