Speak, don’t give a speech

Why can’t people speak without giving a speech? It’s a question I asked on Twitter recently while at a conference — at a time when I was supposed to be listening to a speaker.

It was a good event overall, but once again it was an event where attendees were subjected to too many speeches rather than getting to hear from speakers.

Supposedly, the fear of public speaking ranks higher than the fear of death for a lot of people. If that’s true, it is just one more reason why we need to start focusing on public speaking in our schools and universities.

The sincerity of any remarks you make come into question when you have to read them to your audience.

If you want to deliver a message that people can believe in, deliver it in a way that is believable. Sometimes you need to remember data or want to make sure you cover specific points. So keep some note cards handy if they help, but speak to your audience don’t read to them.

Invariably I find the most interesting sessions at conferences are those where a speaker or a group of panelists is having an unscripted conversation with the audience.

So if you are giving a speech or a presentation, remember to be human and to be real. Be willing to flub a comment and share the laugh with your audience. Be willing to speak from the head and the heart rather than from a page of text.

Remember, communication is about the receiver, not the sender. So step out of your comfort zone and speak to your audience, not at them. We will hear what you are saying and engage in your presentation with you. Otherwise, you’ll find your audience is going to be busy on our Blackberries and mobile phones, tweeting, texting, checking email — and maybe even drafting a blog entry.

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One comment on “Speak, don’t give a speech

  1. With so much information being shared online, I can find just about anything I want without ever going to a seminar or seeing a live presentation.

    We continue to see go these events because of the connection we are invited to feel with the speaker, which helps to engage the material beyond rote consumption. It seems like this should be common sense, but with so many flat presentations, it obviously bears repeating.

    Like

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