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More Presentation and Preparation

    1.Be Prepared - Being prepared is by far the most important element. How many times do you practice your speech? As a general rule, you should spend about 30 hours of preparation and rehearsal time for every hour your will be speaking. Use a tape recorder or videotape yourself. This will help you to get an accurate picture of how you speak.

    2.Give of Yourself - Use personal examples and stories in your speech whenever possible. Make sure your stories help to emphasize or support your point. The stories must match your message. Use examples from your personal and professional life to make your point. In either case be willing to give of yourself by sharing some of yourself with the audience.

    3.Stay Relaxed - To stay relaxed you should be prepared. Also, focus on your message and not the audience. Use gestures, including walking patterns. Practice the opening of your speech and plan exactly how you will say it. The audience will judge you in the first 30 seconds they see you.

    4.Use Natural Humor - Don't try to be a stand up comedian. Use natural humor by poking fun at yourself and something you said or did. Be sure NOT to make fun of anyone in the audience. People will laugh with you when you poke fun at yourself but don't overdo it. However, if you are not equipped at quality delivery of humor, avoid it.

    5.Plan Your Body & Hand Positions - During the practice of your speech look for occasions where you can use a gesture. Establish three positions where you will stand and practice not only how to move to them but where in your speech do you move. Pick one position on center stage, one to your right, and one to your left. Do not hide behond the lectern. When you do move maintain eye contact with the audience.

    6.Pay attention to all details - Make sure you have the right location (school, hotel, room & time). Make sure you know how to get to where you are speaking. Ask how large an audience you will be speaking to. Make sure you bring all your visual aids and plenty of handouts. Arrive early so you can check out where you will be speaking and make any last minute adjustments.

    It is very important that you pay attention to even the smallest details. You can never overplan. Remember, "He who fails to plan is planning for failure"

Transitional Phrases

    Transitions are an integral part of a smooth flowing presentation, yet many speakers forget to plan their transitions. The primary purpose of a transition is to lead your listener from one idea to another. The following are some examples of transitions that work well:

    • 1.Bridge words or phrases (furthermore, meanwhile, however, in addition, consequently, finally.

    • 2.Trigger transition (same word or idea used twice: "a similar example is ...").

    • 3.Ask a Question ("How many of you ....?")

    • 4.Flashback ("Do you remember when I said ...?")

    • 5.Point-By-Point ("There are three points ...The first one is.. The second one is..etc.)

    • 6.Add a Visual Aid as a Transition - Many times it may be appropriate to add a visual between your regular visual aids for the sole purpose of a "visual" transition. Many times a clever cartoon used here can add some humor to your presentations.

    • 7.Pausing (Even a simple pause, when effectively used, can act as a transition. This allows the audience to "think" about what was just said and give it more time to register.

    • 8.Use Physical Movement (The speaker should move or change the location of their body. This is best done when you are changing to a new idea or thought.

    • 9.Use a Personal Story The use of a story, especially a personal one is a very effective technique used by many professional speakers. Used effectively can help reinforce any points you made during your presentation.

    • 10.Use the PEP formula (Point, Example, Point) (This is a very common format used and can also be combined with the use of a personal story. Make sure stories or examples you use help reinforce your message.

Three common mistakes made when using transitions:

  • 1. The most common mistake people make is that they DON'T use transitions at all. Transitions help your information flow from one idea to the next.

  • 2. The second most common mistake is using transitions that are too short. Not enough time is spent bridging to the next idea. This is extremely important when changing to a new section of ideas within your presentation.

  • 3. The third most common mistake is that people use the same transition throughout the presentation. This becomes very boring after a short while. Try to be creative with your transitions.

Overcoming Anxiety in Impromptu or Extemporaneous Speeches

While many of us do not like to speak in front of people, there are times when we are asked to get up and say a few words about someone or a topic when we have not planned on saying anything at all. We are more shocked than anyone else. Has this ever happened to you? If and when this does happen to you, be prepared to rise to the challenge. Below are some tips you can use the next time you are called on to speak.

  • Decide quickly what your one message will be - Keep in mind you have not been asked to give a speech but to make some impromptu remarks. Hopefully they have asked you early enough so you can at least jot down a few notes before you speak. If not, pick ONE message or comment and focus on that one main idea. Many times, other ideas may come to you after you start speaking. If this happens, go with the flow and trust your instincts.

  • Do not try and memorize what you will say - Trying to memorize will only make you more nervous and you will find yourself thinking more about the words and not about the message.

  • Start off strong and with confidence - If you at least plan your opening statement, this will get you started on the right foot. After all, just like with any formal speech, getting stared is the most difficult. Plan what your first sentence will be. You may even write this opening line down on your note card and glance at it one more time just before you begin speaking. If you know you have three points or ideas to say, just start off simple by saying, "I would just like to talk about 3 points". The first point is... the second point is... and so on.

  • Decide on your transitions from one point to the other - After you have decided on your opening remark or line, come up with a simple transition statement that takes you to your main point. If you have more than one point to make, you can use a natural transtion such as, "My second point is... or my next point is..." etc. Just list on your note card or napkin, if you have to, the main points or ideas. Do not write out the exact words, but just the points you want to mention.

  • Maintain eye contact with the audience - This is easier to do if you do not write down all kinds of stuff to read. Look down at your next idea or thought and maintain eye contact with your audience and speak from your heart. Focus on communcating TO your audience and not speaking AT the crowd.

  • Occassionally throw in an off-the-cuff remark - Because you want your style to be flexible and seem impromptu, trust your instinct and add a few words which just pop into your head. Keep it conversational and think of the audience as a group of your friends.

  • Finally, have a good conclusion - Gracefully just state, "And the last point I would like to make is ....". Once you have made your last point, you can then turn control back to the person who asked you to speak in the first place.

With a little practice, this process will feel more natural to you. Anticipating that you MAY be asked to say a few words should force you to at least think about what you might say if you are asked. Then if you ARE asked, you are better prepared because you anticipated being asked. This is much better than thinking they won't ask you and they actually do!

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