Not the time for a bedtime story! Make your topic sound “alive” even if you’re just reading! [Wednesdays: “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”]
Last week, we talked about unscripted talks and how they make your topic sound “fresh, alive, and real.”
We also discussed 3 important types of notes that will help you effectively deliver your message even without a full-on script.
In today’s article, we’ll be focusing on the opposite of unscripted presentations.
Are we thinking about the same thing?
It’s none other than…
According to Chris Anderson in his book titled, “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” one huge advantage of using the “scripted approach” is as a speaker, you can make the most out of your presentation time.
However, one drawback of using a script is if you don’t use it properly in your speech or presentation, the topic may not sound “alive” to your audience.
Take note: There’s a difference between being read to and being spoken to.
In most instances, audiences respond more powerfully to the latter.
When you simply read your script in front of the attendees of your talk, your presentation may sound “impersonal” and “distanced.”
On the other hand, when you add life and meaning to every word you say even while you’re reading a script, it will be easier for your audience to welcome your thoughts and embrace your ideas.
If you decide to go “scripted” in your public speaking engagements, there are 3 main strategies you can use:
Know your talk so well that it doesn’t sound scripted even just for a moment.
One effective tip to say what you really want to say in front of your audience is to familiarize yourself with your topic and script.
We’re not saying you should memorize your whole presentation. Even if you’re good at memorization, there’s no need to use this approach.
What we’re saying is you really have to know the core of your talk and the message you want to convey.
Pamela Meyer, the American author who delivered a TED talk in 2011 about “How To Spot A Liar,” gave advice on how to effectively present in front of an audience:
“At Camp Seafarer in North Carolina, we had to tread water while singing camp songs. Then, to make it harder, we had to tread water while also wiggling our forefingers in complicated patterns to the beat of the song.
You haven’t really known your talk thoroughly until you can do an entire other activity that requires mental energy while giving your talk.
Can you give your talk while measuring out the ingredients to make brownies? Can you give your talk while filling all the messy papers on your desk into a file cabinet?
If you can give your talk while the cognitive load is that high on your system, you can give it well while focused on stage.”
Internalize your presentation topic. By doing so, even if you’re referring to a script, your message will still make an impact on your audience and you don’t sound too rehearsed.
Refer to your script but maintain eye contact with your audience.
Ideally, when you use a script in your presentation, you should have it placed on a teleprompter (usually a large screen that is parallel to the direction where the audience is facing) and not on a lectern.
Why is that so?
It’s because when you place your scripts on a lectern, there’s a tendency for you to look down a lot and lose eye contact with your listeners. Unlike if you have your script in front of you through a monitor, you’ll maintain proper posture and be reminded to look around in the audience.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should completely abandon the idea of using lecterns in your speeches or presentations.
There’s nothing wrong with using one. You just have to learn how to balance staying in one place and walking around the stage at some parts of your talk to interact with your audience.
Be in “speaking mode” and not “reading mode.”
By “speaking mode,” we mean…
… giving meaning to the words as you speak as naturally and passionately as you can…
… displaying appropriate facial expressions and gestures as well as maintaining eye contact with your audience…
… being familiar enough with your script that you’re just glancing at it every sentence or two.
This strategy may take a lot of practice and effort but it’s less daunting than having to completely memorize your script.
Condense your script to bullet points.
The key to using bullet points as your script is to effectively express each point in your own words while presenting on stage.
Keep in mind that even though you’re encouraged to talk in your own words, you have to make sure the terms you use are appropriate in the event where you’re speaking at.
It’s also important to rehearse your talk several times before the actual day of your presentation because practicing will give you the confidence you need even if you’re just relying on bullet points.
In the words of Gina Barnett, one of TED’s coaches:
“This is what I tell people: Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes imperfection livable. When you know something inside out, you can play with what comes your way, rather than shut it out.”
Embrace your presentation. It’s your stage, anyway. Your goal is to get to the point where remembering the words you have to say is no longer an effort and you can use your stage time to impart passion and meaning to the audience.
Do your listeners the honor of knowing your script so well that you can still give a “sense of meaning” in the moment.
Mean. Every. Sentence.
Look up as often as you can and make eye contact.
Add a moment of powerful impact and towards the end of your presentation, let go of your script.
Walk away from the lectern, move to the front of the stage, and give a power closer.
Apply these tips the next time you present a scripted talk!
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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