I recently came across a high ranking sales executive from a large corporation who manages thousands of employees across the nation and is one of the best people in his field. He asked me, how to become a better public speaker.
I was a bit shocked, I have seen videos of this person in action, and He is easily one of the top 5% business speakers in the market. He has strong relevant messages, Great personality, charisma, energy, the works.
I told him, I’m surprised he wanted my feedback. I told him that I greatly admire his work. There is no doubt he is in the top 5%.
His response was, “Thank you, but I want to be in the top 1 percent”.
Be the best, then be better than that
I have been studied communication for over 25 years, and I’ve learned in that time that the best speakers are the best because they continuously improve themselves.
Public speaking is an art and a science, these people are artists and scientists of the highest caliber. Constantly challenging themselves to innovate and raise the bar.
A book titled “What the rich are reading this summer”, currently on the CNBC reading list suggests that the super-rich are hungry for information.
They are very interested in further developing their minds even if they are already on the top of the world.
This poses a challenge for me, many of the “rich” That I have met are already great public speakers in their own right. What advice do I give to people who are already very good at what they do, and turn them into a bigger superstar that they already are?.
Here are some of the tips that I offer to people who are already at the top of their game, but still willing to climb higher.
Ensure you have something new to say
Great public speakers already know how to bring the message across. They know a lot about how to get the audience and mesmerize them in their presence. They teach their listeners something about their industry in a way that the term enraptured is an understatement.
The difference between great speakers, and show stoppers is the content. Thought leaders read a lot of books, whitepapers, watch videos, news, articles, and think long and hard about their industry and its future. They always have something new to teach, it is not just about repeating the same message with improved delivery over and over.
Get personal with the audience
Every great public speaker is a great storyteller, they all know how to use stories with great effect. They know how to choose the right narrative to deliver their lessons right on the money. Any good presentation contains a few of short stories. It is about companies, individuals, and other inspirations.
Those stories are fine, but once you have personally reached a high level of success. The audience would also like something about your story. You were chosen as a speaker for that event because the Coordinators believe you have treaded the path relevant to the audience. The audience and the coordinators alive would like to hear how your experience can be relevant to their current situation. They would like to hear something concrete about overcoming their present challenges from someone who did it.
Pictures are worth a thousand words
I did a presentation in Google headquarters a few months ago, He told me that it’s impressive that I use slides with just one word. His boss does it all the time too. This tells me that his boss is a great public speaker, because only strong, confident, presenters would put one word in an entire slide. A study says the best slide has 40 words. I disagree. In any great presentation. There are more pictures and less text.
Slides are visual aids. You are there to talk. Audiences are there to listen. It is a “Talk” not a “Read”. Visual aids are to help with “VISUALS”. They are NOT notes.
Great presentations are also professionally designed. If you do not have the skill set to do this yourself, hire a professional. Build several template decks. Delegate this task to someone who knows best. Anyone can put a text and photo in PowerPoint. That doesn’t mean it would come out great.
Animate your voice
Great speakers are also voice actors. They vary the pitch, tone, pace, volume, of the delivery. They use dramatic pauses. They use proper sentence intonation for maximum effect. Record your own speech. Listen to it. It has to be good enough to dub an animation. “My Stroke of Insight “ by Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, a brain researcher, is one of the most popular TED talks of all time, It is a presentation about how the teenage brain works. Try to LISTEN (not watch) it. You will hear how her verbal skills alone makes her a great presenter. The entire narrative is very effective just because of the animated voice.
Dance to the music
Everyone knows you’re supposed to make eye contact, use appealing gestures, and pay careful attention to what EVERY PART of your body does while on stage. Watch you own videos, have it reviewed by professionals, Watch for little mannerisms that you need to remove. Every little smile, Hand placement, walking speed, microphone handling every little thing matters. There is someone I know, a Silicon Valley leader, he is one of the best speakers in corporate USA. He hired a body language coach and worked within for twenty years! Every great speaker knows that your body language is part of your presentation. It too, has to be perfect.
Share the limelight
The most important thing about talks that most speakers fail to understand. It is never about the speaker. It is always about the audience. It is about what they want. They may not know they want it. But you have to deliver it. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff loves to share the stage with the audience. The best way for the audience to have an immersive experience is to get involved. It would create the illusion that you are one of them, and they are part of you.
This is a very advanced technique, most people would be scared out of their wits to speak on stage. It requires a very alert and sensitive and great public speaker to carry both yourself and the participant. Which brings us to the final tip.
Practice makes perfect
Great speaker rehearse, they do post rehearsal. They watch their own videos and recreate their speech and fix where did wrong. They practice seriously. It is not just something of going through the motions. They give it all during practice. Put at least 10 hours of practice for every hour of presentation. Put at least 2 hours of post rehearsal corrective practice after.
There are 3,730,000 Google results when you search “Motivational Speakers” as of this writing. Being average, good, and sometimes very good is not necessarily enough.
In order to be great, you have to be willing to do more than what mediocre speakers are willing to. These advanced tips will help turn you from being good, to being great.