I have a keynote to deliver this fall that I've known about for a few months. Back when it was scheduled I did my research. Now it's time to create the outline, the framework and put it into action. In summary, plan, prepare and practice! I know my approach to public speaking is different from most presenters.
Most presenters do one of two things:
#1 churn ideas around in their head, make notes the night before or morning of, and try to give a casual, "let's talk" approach to their slightly planned, unprepared topic, hoping the audience asks a few questions that can help steer the talk
#2 begin planning well in advance, gather materials - handouts, slide presentations, pamphlets of extra information, etc. and bury themselves in a mountain of material that even the audience will sufocate from
These are the most common problems presenters have at the podium:
Getting off topic
Cramming too much information into a short amount of time
I don't want problems at the podium. I want results. My 3-fold process steers speakers away from the common problems and into a flow that connects the audience, creates influence and motivates action.
3-fold process to eliminate problems at the podium
1. Plan the scope of your topic. With your audience in mind, approach your topic from the everyday and special interest of their needs. This requires researching their common challenges and pairing it with your expertise in how to help them mitigate, if not eradicate, their issues. Your presentation is not about you - it's about your audience.
2. Prepare your influence strategy. First, be sure you have such a thorough understanding of your topic that you can relax into its delivery, despite questions. Then, appeal to your audiences' common needs: facts/statistics, story, visual/metaphor and clarity. Knowing what most audiences want helps you to tailor your appeal in their language. They want peace of mind, results, quality and good reputation. Speak to these things.
3. Practice your presentation while on your feet. Get up and get moving with your notes. I suggest writing out the entire presentation simply to get a flow for it. Then, condense it down to note cards that address the key points. If you must use a script, then memorize it in two places - the intro and the conclusion. It is here you must make eye contact - set the tone you desire for the message and deliver your message with confidence. The rest of the presentation needs variety of pace, movement and commitment to connecting the topic to your audience. With practice you can identify the weak areas, address them, rehearse them until smooth and then step up to the podium, walk away from it and make a connection your audience isn't used to.
Do you want your efforts to pay off? Then do what it takes. This process is what it takes. Let me know if there is any piece of these steps you want help with. My one hour presentation review can help address many things that get you excited about your talk. Address this now.
No planning is selfish. Out of respect for the audience, planning demonstrates willingness to give the audience what they want - information they can relate to and apply. Once you plan, you can prepare and practice. You don't want problems at the podium. You want results.