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Talking business and getting results

Time is money and when speaking in public having a clear objective is even more important with business talks. The key question is - what is the purpose of your presentation? What do you want to achieve? Do you want to inform, persuade, inspire, entertain? Make the context crystal clear. Spend a long time considering your subject and gathering appropriate material that will punch your key messages home. How long will you be speaking for? What is your place on the speaking programme? Do you have to tie in with someone else's contribution? Consider the number of people in the audience and the auditorium itself - who'll be there - and who they are? Could they have an impact on your speaking career? What visual aids equipment will be there? (or do you want to be there)? Know how to use it properly - and carry spares! Liaise with the organizers and make sure that there are no loose ends on the day.

Get the sequence of your talk right. Would an agenda help? You will need a logical and 'signposted' structure with a definite conclusion (do not leave it in the air!). Have a strong opening with impact, something that the audience will remember long after. Similarly, the ending should be memorable. Research shows that your audience will probably remember the beginning and the ending if they are delivered convincingly. Establish your audience's level of knowledge by research before the event.

The army has an interesting saying: 'Good reconnaissance is never wasted.' Ensure you adapt your presentation to their level of knowledge and interest.Involve your audience right at the start - including getting their agreement to your key messages early.

Win them over. Smile, talk of 'we/us', and never talk down or patronize your audience. Keep them awake. It's better without a written script (unless you have to).

Aim for variety of voice - word pictures can be highlighted within a long talk - visual aids, maybe (with pie charts rather than tables) or break it up with a 2-man act. Circulate handouts before the event, not during. Or tell them at the start if they'll get notes at the end.

Be prepared for questions. Note and remember who asked the question. Remember to repeat the question before answering in case somebody in the audience didn't catch the question.

If you don't know the answer - never flannel ? it will show! Always speak with enthusiasm or passion on your subject. If you are not, at least, enthusiastic about your subject, you will have difficulty maintaining the attention of the audience, and if your presentation culminates in a call to action, they are unlikely to follow up your invitation. Being a subject matter expert is not enough - the key to success lies not so much in what you say, but more importantly, how you say it. Take time out to watch other speakers and note particularly what methods score with the audience.

There are three keys to success: preparation - preparation - preparation. Explore all three in great detail and you will probably succeed in your assignment.

The College of Public Speaking assists the Corporate, Private and Third Sectors improve their communication skills. Visit our web site at => http://www.collegeofpublicspeaking.co.uk More free articles at => http://www.bdv-skills.co.uk



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