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3 public speaking lessons you can learn from Amanda Gorman

3 public speaking lessons you can learn from Amanda Gorman 1709 2560 I Need A Speaker

Last month, Amanda Gorman stole the show during President Biden’s inauguration. She captivated everyone when reading her original poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

Three takeaways from her presentation can benefit all speakers:

  1. Have a clear purpose. Develop your central statement of purpose, and add relevant support material. Eliminate anything that’s redundant, and keep editing until you’ve created a powerful presentation.
  2. Speak with confidence. You’ll feel confident when you know the material well and have practiced several times.
  3. Add drama. Use pauses that emphasize points and allow your audience to keep up with you. Incorporate nonverbal language to create an emotional connection and demonstrate your passion for the presentation.

Amanda Gorman can and will teach us a lot. These public speaking takeaways reflect just a portion of her talent.

Channel your inner Amanda Gorman. It’s your turn to steal the show!

 

 

Photo credit: Pexels

Avoid these common Zoom errors (don’t be a cat)

Avoid these common Zoom errors (don’t be a cat) 2560 1700 I Need A Speaker

It’s been quite a week for virtual meetings! One lawyer appeared virtually in court with a cat filter in place, unable to figure out a way to remove the transformational effect.

In another part of the world, a professor in Singapore conducted an entire two-hour lecture virtually while on mute. According to news reports, students were unable to get his attention to rectify the situation.

How can you avoid situations like these? Here are some tips:

  • Become familiar with all of the settings on your virtual meeting platform before the meeting begins. If you’re unfamiliar with the platform, experiment with a friend or family member until you feel comfortable. Do an online search for tutorials if necessary.
  • Frequently seek feedback from your audience, whether through verbal communication, written notes in the chat feature, or non-verbal communication.
  • Monitor your physical background to ensure that it’s professional and suited for your virtual meeting.
  • If you need to share your screen for any reason, check your desktop for information you might not want people to see. Close any tabs you don’t need open. This week, I saw a thread on Twitter that began when a student posted the story of her professor sharing her screen during class. The professor’s desktop had a folder related to her divorce, and it was visible to the entire class.
  • Be aware of sounds that may be picked up by your microphone, and do your best to avoid audible distractions.
  • If you need to use the rest room, leave your phone or laptop somewhere private. Do not take it with you! (Yes, that has happened to too many people already.)
  • Dress appropriately for your virtual call – from head to toe! Some people dress more formally from the waist up, thinking that others on the virtual meeting will only see a partial outfit. But if the frame is wider than you expect, if you or the camera move, or if you need to reach for something, your audience may get an unexpected peek at your gym shorts or pajama bottoms.
  • Notify others in your home, dorm, or office when there is a live camera, so they know to dress, speak, and behave appropriately.
  • Avoid eating during the meeting.
  • And, as we learned from the mathematics professor, mute only when necessary.

 

 

Photo credit: Pexels

Energize yourself and your audience

Energize yourself and your audience 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

If you want to energize your audience, you’ll have to energize yourself first.

Video call fatigue is very real, and it can be difficult for speakers and audiences alike to begin a presentation when they’re mentally, emotionally, or physically tired. We know this, but in times like these, we may not take our own advice.

Energize by walking outside, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and taking brief exercise breaks every hour. Even if you just stretch or take a short walk every 60 minutes, you’ll feel an increase in your energy level. And when you feel it, your audience feels it, too.

Observe. Learn. Evaluate. Observe again.

Observe. Learn. Evaluate. Observe again. 2560 1709 I Need A Speaker

Regardless of your level of speaking expertise, there is always some room to learn and improve.

Watching other people’s presentations is one way to self-evaluate, compare, and learn. Great speakers are literally at your fingertips. Type and search for names you know, or browse TED talks to seek inspiration.

When watching the presentation, consider these questions;

  • How does this speaker interact with his/her audience? How does the audience respond?
  • What resonates with you about the speaker’s appearance, style, and tone?
  • What would you do the same? What might you do differently?
  • How did he or she use visual aids, if at all?
  • If controversial topics or statements were included, how were they handled?
  • How were the speaker’s word choices, pace, and tone?
  • Did pauses add dramatic effect?
  • How, if at all, did the speaker use storytelling to make a point?
  • What are people saying in the online chat for the presentation?
  • Did the speaker have a powerful, memorable ending?
  • If you saw a panel presentation, did he or she interact with respect and diplomacy with others?
  • Did the speaker stay within the prescribed timeframe?
  • If you were an audience member, would you want to see this presenter again?

While constant comparison may not be necessary (and in some cases is advised against, allowing you to develop your own style), the practice of observation and evaluation is especially helpful for novice speakers.

Once upon a time …

Once upon a time … 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

Shawn Achor and Brene Brown are two of my favorite authors and speakers. It’s not just because of the information they share. I like these speakers so much because of the way they share information. They tell engaging stories. They pull me in, and they make me want to hear more.

Before pen was ever put to paper, stories have been passed from generation to generation verbally. Ancient civilizations used stories to explain what they could not understand.

As humans, we are wired to tell, enjoy and remember tales. Great speakers know this, and they successfully weave stories into presentations to engage audiences, illustrate key points, and help listeners retain information.

When speakers tell stories from the heart, they connect with audience members in a special way. Speakers become more relatable, approachable, and memorable. In essence, they become more effective.

What story will you tell?

Nine ways to improve your online presentations

Nine ways to improve your online presentations 2560 1709 I Need A Speaker

With the rise of virtual meetings, many presenters have been asked to deliver remarks via Zoom. How can you be your best while presenting remotely? Plan well, as any good speaker would … and follow these nine tips.

  1. Keep your camera at face level, allowing you to look directly at the camera without looking down your nose or tilting your head upward.
  2. If your background doesn’t project the image you’d choose, swap it for a virtual background. Search “virtual Zoom backgrounds” online, and you’ll find a variety of free, downloadable images that range from silly to sophisticated. Use one that suits the occasion, topic, and audience.
  3. Ensure your background is as quiet as possible. You can’t prevent a fire truck from barreling down the street, lights and sirens engaged, but you can try your best to keep noises at a minimum.
  4. For best audio quality, consider using a headset with a microphone or a clip-on microphone in addition to your computer. Inexpensive models may be purchased online for less than $20 and will improve your audience’s experience.
  5. Be sensitive to time limitations. Many people are reporting “Zoom fatigue” from the number of online meetings they attend. Respect your audience’s time – as well as that of other presenters – by staying within your requested timeframe.
  6. Engage your audience when possible. This keeps attendees interested and supports their retention of information. Take a poll, conduct a brief activity, or have your audience complete a brief task.
  7. Dress appropriately! YouTube has a variety of “fail” videos revealing that some Zoom presenters failed to follow this rule.
  8. Remember that your setting may be more casual than your workplace, but you still want to appear professional. Enunciate and speak at a comfortable pace, so your audience can follow along easily.
  9. Have fun! Make the most of your opportunity to share information and engage with your attendees.
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