Q: Hi, Mr. A! What a way to start 2010! I finally got my promotion as a full-fledged sales manager... better pay and perks but bigger responsibilities and expectations not just from my bosses but from my bigger team. With only 2 weeks in my new position, I realize that my time now is spent more attending meetings, sales rallies, special events, and other gatherings where I am usually asked to talk without enough time to prepare. Being good in sales work doesn't mean being good as well in public speaking. Could you please give me tips on how I can organize a talk? Thank you!
Andrew of San Fernando, La Union.
PP: Congratulations, Andrew, on your recent promotion! Any person who gets to successfully climb the corporate ladder usually sees, along the way, the need to improve his public speaking skills (all soft skills actually) as he realizes the fact that, whether he likes it or not, he definitely cannot escape from such a responsibility. Take on the challenge then instead of making excuses just so you can avoid it.
A lot consider speaking in public as their #1 Fear. Knowing what to do and how to overcome it, however, can make the big difference. But, I won't dwell on those now as your main concern is how to organize your talk.
With or without enough time to prepare, I would advise you to always first come up with the outline of your talk where you can identify the opening, body, and closing. If you can't write them down anymore given the little time available before you get up on stage, develop the ability of mentally designing your outline so you'll have a blueprint that can guide you as you start your delivery. No matter what, have your outline ready!
Have an opening that catches everyone's attention. You may choose from several techniques any speech materials provide. Aside from sharing what your topic is, have a contract statement which should give your audience the guarantee of getting something (what should they learn) after they listen to you.
Focus on only 3 salient points in the body of your talk. I leave it to you if you'll go from the most important to the least one, or vice versa. Each point should be given supporting information that makes it indeed a major consideration needed to understand the main topic. After discussing the last point and before closing your talk, make sure you provide the audience a brief summary of the 3 points you discussed.
Your Opening should be as interesting as your closing and it should be connected as much as possible. Always end your talk with a bang to leave a great impact to everyone. It's always good to make a "call for action" at the end enjoining each one to do something positive after learning something worth doing from you.
Lastly, remember not to talk too much. Limit your talk to a maximum of 20 minutes which is usually the attention span of the audience. Less talk time is advised as long as you talk sensibly and confidently.
Goodluck, Andrew! May PersonaPower be with you in your every talk.