Ten Speaker Tips to Make any Presentation Sparkle!

by | Mar 30, 2009 | Book Marketing Basics

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So we talk a lot about speaking and not to plan a book signing but rather a book event. But many of you have emailing to say “Speaker tips, please!” so here they are, just a few tips to turn any presentation form so-so to sensational!

1)      Don’t overwhelm your audience with too much stuff. When I first started speaking over five years ago, I would show up with sixty pages of notes. One of the people in the audience said to me “You’re not planning on covering all of that, are you?” Indeed. As time progressed I realized that my audience would get more with less. While I encourage you to fill your presentation with great information, save the overstuffing for your Thanksgiving turkey and keep your presentation flowing with enough information to sustain, but not so much as to overwhelm. So how much is too much? Well, you might have to experiment with this a bit before you get it just right. Try practicing your presentation at home in front of some people who can give you objective feedback, this will really help you polish your program before you go out to the “real” audience.  Keep in mind that when you rehearse your presentation is bound to be shorter, things like questions and audience interaction will also lengthen your speaking time.

2)      Look ‘em in the eye: you should always try to make eye contact with your audience, in fact I recommend that you make and keep eye contact for at least five seconds with select individuals. This will help to engage the listener. Don’t look over their heads at the back wall or your product table, keep your eyes focused on the people who came there to hear you speak.

3)      Move around, don’t hide behind the podium: it’s easy to seek shelter being a speaker podium, especially when you’re nervous but the podium is a subconscious “block” between you and your audience so try to move away from it as you can.

4)      Gestures and facial expressions are good: vary your gestures and facial expressions. An animated speaker is far more engaging than one who has perfected the Poker-face look. This is especially true if you want to keep your presentation light or if you’re presenting humorous material. Also, *smile* – it’s amazing how a warm and welcoming smile can really engage your audience.

5)      Attire: when in doubt get dressed up. If you’re not sure of the attire I always recommend dressing up. If need be you can always remove your jacket and/or tie but it’s hard to recover when you show up in your casual clothes and find everyone else is in a suit.

6)      Leave the monotone voice at home: vary your voice, don’t keep to one speed. Vary the speed and rhythm, it’s almost like riding a roller coaster. One minute you’re fast, then slow, then climbing. Keep it varied and you’ll keep your audience’s attention. As for using “um” and “eh” well, you know that’s a no-no, no sense in taking up space here to remind you that you should avoid those place fillers at all costs. If you need some practice getting those out of your vernacular try attending a toastmasters group in your local area.

7)      Using PowerPoint? Go easy on the text: if you use too much text on your PowerPoint you’ll find that people are reading the text on the slides instead of listening to you. A good balance is a few words to highlight your key points, just enough to get their attention but not enough that they’re forced to read what’s on the screen. Figure about 10 slides for every 20 minutes of presentation time. Your font size should be 30 point or larger.

8)      Handouts are a  must: make sure you give them something to take home with them. What I also do is create a handout and then offer to send my audience the PowerPoint presentation they just viewed. I get them to sign up for it which gives me their email addresses to not only send them the presentation, but a thank you note as well along with an invitation to join our newsletter!

9)      Record yourself: as scary as this sounds this is one of the best ways to better yourself as a speaker. Record your presentation and wait a day to listen to it, this will give you enough “space” from the program to clear your mind and listen to the audio objectively. Note what you liked and didn’t like and don’t worry if you feel like you flubbed the whole thing. Remember that your audience isn’t grading you, they are there for information and as long as you lived up to your promise you can keep correcting and enhancing your speaking talent with each program.

10)    Now let’s talk about BOR (back of the room product). Your BOR can make a huge difference in the money you make on your speaking. Most new speakers don’t make money on speaking, or very little but the BOR is where you can strike gold. Here are some tips to maximize it. First off, your flexibility for BOR will depend on whether you’re presenting in a speaker-type set up or at a bookstore but either way, have product to sell regardless of who supplies it. If you can be flexible with what you offer try packaging several items together, offer a one-time discount for the packaged product and this is a little trick I borrowed from a friend of mine: put together several packages, high end, low end and something in the middle. Attendees of your event will generally pick the middle of the road pricing which is probably more than you’d sell a single book for. Also, get folks to sign up for your mailing list. Regardless of what you can and can’t sell, make sure you can add people to your list so you can market to them again, and again, and again.



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