Public speaking

Discussion in 'education & employment' started by Cloo, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    Does anyone here do public speaking as part of their role? Not in terms of teaching so much as being an informed speaker or panellist on their professional area.

    I’m trying to think of ways to get into it more myself – I’ve been the editor of a professional journal for five years now and I think I know the subject area fairly well. I’m no expert, but could certainly talk in an informed way about a number of big-picture topics for a presentation or panel and I think coming from my organisation I would have enough profile to be suitable for it. I also want to do it because I think I’d be good at it – I genuinely don’t have any fear of public speaking like a lot of people do – and I have accrued a decent volume of knowledge to share and a lot of people who could help me prepare material. Also I’m in an area that lacks female speakers, though I would feel a bit cheaty as I’m a journalist rather than a professional working in it. I have found an organisation that basically acts as a hub for female speakers in my field, so I think I might apply to them to see if they would consider me. I also need to find out if my organisation has a contact person for speakers from the organisation, and would they consider putting me out there.

    I expect if I do get approached and it’s not via my organisation I should probably be clearing it with someone in our PR/external affairs dept, as they may well have policies about representing the org that I don’t know about.

    Is there anything else I should be considering about this?
  2. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Starry Wisdom

    you need practice, even if you're not scared of it you need to speak slowly and clearly and to maintain eye contact. it's one thing to speak in public, which any fool can do, it's another to make people want to listen and hear what you have to say, which you - which anyone would - need to work at
  3. alex_

    alex_ Well-Known Member

    Conferences are normally desperate for speakers so I’d put together some summaries of things you could do a talk on and offer yourself to conference organisers.

    Also what pickmans says, practice and you need to figure out how to be engaging which practice will help with.

    I normally find telling jokes, shocking statistics ( relavent to the field ! ) and ideally some audience participation ( asking questions of the audience, not humiliating them ) works for me.

    Mr Smin, not-bono-ever and Cloo like this.
  4. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    Thanks, yeah totally should practise. I know I can sound nervous even though I don't feel it, for example!
  5. alex_

    alex_ Well-Known Member

    It helps to know your content so well you can freestyle over it, just using it for cues rather than relying upon the words.

    So try to do your first one on something you are expert in.

    Spymaster and Cloo like this.
  6. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Also, learn some of the rules of rhetoric. Giving a talk is not the same as teaching a lesson. Having done both, even if you know your topic, it's easy to lose your audience if your prose is not at least a bit sparkly. You know the sort of thing: group your key points in threes, accumulate supporting points, repeat words.
  7. mx wcfc

    mx wcfc Well-Known Member

    I do technical presentations maybe 8 times a year. About half are internal, half external. I was lucky in that I got a bit of practice in with internal stuff before having to speak to the wider world, and also watched my boss doing external presentations before I had to. We do a good double act as well. These days I have got the knack, have a library of slides, and it's no big deal. once you have a bit of experience behind you it's a lot easier.

    If you can do a practice presention in front of colleagues do.

    Best of luck.
    alex_ and Cloo like this.
  8. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    I go to a few smallish panel seminars every year that a law firm puts on about matters related to what I do, so a good start might be to tell the hosts I'd be happy to speak on the panel - it usually involves a 5-minute presentation and then some prepared questions in front of 50-60 people, so could be a good place to start.
    alex_ likes this.
  9. mx wcfc

    mx wcfc Well-Known Member

    Yep that sounds like a good approach. Get colleagues to help you practice too. We are often asked to go and be a guinea pig audience for colleagues who have to do a major presentation. It's just helping each other out.
    I have done presentations with law firms. They are so paranoid about risk that they sit there reading signed off scripts. I am confident enough about my subject to, well, talk! relax. just do it.
    Cloo likes this.
  10. Gromit

    Gromit International Man of Misery Banned

    My tip if you dont know it's okay to say you don't know. Don't try and bullshit as you lose credibility.

    You can always add (if it's in your capacity to do so) I can find out the answer for you if you want, if so I'll forward an answer to the organiser who can pass it on to everyone who provided contact details.
    Cloo likes this.
  11. mx wcfc

    mx wcfc Well-Known Member

    without disagreeing with that, I have occasionally baffled with bullshit when I couldn't blind with brilliance.

    But yes, if you don't know the answer, get their details and follow it up. That has happened to me.
  12. Gromit

    Gromit International Man of Misery Banned

    The danger with baffling with bullshit is that if they find out afterwards it was all bullshit and see you are speaking at future events they may not feel it's worth their time attending. They're only going to talk crap like they did last time, not worth my effort.
    alex_ likes this.
  13. mx wcfc

    mx wcfc Well-Known Member

    Not arguing with that, baffling with bullshit is a last resort, but if you are caught out and follow up with sensible help you can survive. We can't all know everything.
  14. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    I'm certainly in a position to refer to specialist colleagues if needs be. I did go to a training session of presentation etc and one thing they did say is it's OK to say you don't know and refer to a colleague or say you'll talk to the person afterwards about who to contact etc. I don't think I necessarily know enough t bullshit.
    mx wcfc likes this.
  15. purenarcotic

    purenarcotic Conveniently Pocket Sized

    It’s better to say you don’t know - it’s really fucking annoying when it’s clear you’re getting a shit answer because the person thinks there’s something wrong in not being god and knowing it all

    Depending on time, if it’s long breaking up with short activities keeps engagement - a short quiz, a quick two min discussion with the person next to them, whatever. Even if you’re really interesting and dynamic there’s a limit to how much someone can listen to just one person for a long time plus it gives you as the speaker a wee break too

    Keep PowerPoint to a minimum - tbh I hate it but if you must stick to the rules - limited text, large clear font etc

    I think a lot make the mistake of wanting to cram it all in when there isn’t the time - if you only have 20 minutes then you won’t be able to cover it all. Prioritise and put together a short additional reading or resource list so those who want more info can access. It’s okay to acknowledge at the beginning that due to time you’ll only be focussing on x or y

    Always build in time for questions at the end - so if you have been given 20 plan for 15 mins talk time 5 mins for questions

    The speaking clearly and slowly thing obviously applies but there is an element of skill to this - if you’re huddled round a small table you do not need to talk really slowly, if you’re speaking in a huge hall then you need to reduce the pace a little

    The more you do it the easier and more enjoyable it becomes. I do training more than public speaking per se but I love it, it’s ace meeting new people, hearing different perspectives etc.
  16. mx wcfc

    mx wcfc Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't argue with any of that. I did a talk recently to an external group - I emailed the organiser my slides and explained that I would speak for 45 mins to allow 15 mins for questions - they replied that generally their talks lasted for an hour and a half, so could I add some more slides. Fuck me did I speak slowly that evening!
  17. Gromit

    Gromit International Man of Misery Banned

    Re PowerPoint.

    A picture paints a thousand words. If you can paint a picture then use it. If not then don't. Nothing worse than someone reading text off slides verbatim.

    e.g. Figures or graphs that give real perspective.

    Saying people make stupid correlations is one thing. Illustrating with the following graph drives the point home:


    Even better graph:


    If you want people to have a written record of key points without having to take notes then prepare a handout of key points. It doesn't have to be a in the PowerPoint presentation and then copies of the presentation given out (with none of your spoken context available to them).
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
    Cloo likes this.
  18. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    Oh yeah, I hate reading slides. Some of the best ones I've seen are just a good image or two.
  19. purenarcotic

    purenarcotic Conveniently Pocket Sized

    Hah! Know that feeling. :D

    That’s another good point - don’t be afraid to stand firm with how you will be doing things. Took me a while but it’s really important actually, especially if you’re trying to put across important concepts or information that affects people’s safety. Better to do it another time when it suits you better than make all sorts of adjustments you feel uncomfortable with and actually promote poor or dangerous practice.
    Cloo and mx wcfc like this.
  20. butcher

    butcher boner at the ready

    This is a brilliant short talk on public talking and confidence
    crossthebreeze and Cloo like this.
  21. Hollis

    Hollis Bloody furious

    I read into this for an interview presentation - it's pretty good..

    Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds
    by Carmine Gallo (Author)

    I didn't get as far as the interview... so I never got to put all my good work to use.. lol. :(

    Actually this book is better.. if though I believe it's written by a ravin' Tory or summat..

    The Presentation Coach: Bare Knuckle Brilliance For Every Presenter
    by Graham G. Davies
  22. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

  23. Gerry1time

    Gerry1time pities the neurotypical

    I do shed loads of conference speaking, and have done for over 10 years now, to the point I now fly round the world doing it. Not sure what I've learned, as my sort of feeling with it is you just need to do it as much as possible in order to get better. Advice in videos and online can help to some degree I'm sure, but I never bothered with them, and a lot of my best learnings have been from times when stuff's gone catastrophically wrong.

    As for getting into things to speak, just look up who the organisers are and approach them. Be careful though, some just want to use your company's name to sell tickets, so will act like they want you on the bill, but if you leave the company before the event, they'll drop you like a stone. They can also tend to overuse the company association when marketing the event, which can piss off your company too. Not worth it imho.

    One other thing to watch out for is how addictive it is. I love doing it, get such a buzz from it, and am always looking for more places to do it. Sent off two proposals for talks to a conference just this evening as it happens.
    Cloo likes this.
  24. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    butcher - thanks for the video, it's great. I really like her as well from the Guilty Feminist podcast. An actor friend we were meeting for a drink last night asked me to forward it to him.
    butcher likes this.
  25. butcher

    butcher boner at the ready

    Her stuff on R4 about growing up a Jehovah's Witness and being adopted is brilliantly funny and very touching too.

    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
  26. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat hmm

  27. Guineveretoo

    Guineveretoo Mostly bewildered

    I have done a fair amount of public speaking, through my union work to varying sizes of audience. I think the biggest was 3,500.

    I went on a public speaking course a couple of decades ago, which was amusing because I actually got worse over the weekend of the course! They were videoing it all, and I clearly got worse because I was told not to gesticulate, and it seems I can't speak publicly without gesticulating.

    I gave a eulogy at a funeral of a very popular friend a while ago, in a crowded crematorium (couple of hundred people, including some very good friends). It was the first time my daughter had heard me speak publicly and she expressed surprise how good I was at it!

    I think my advice would be the same as everyone else's - to get as much practice in as you can - but try and do that where it is not too high profile, because word gets round and, if it is your first time and you are not very good, you may not get asked to speak at the high profile events.

    Remember to speak to the back of the hall (too many speakers don't look up, but just seem to be reading their speeches) and to articulate clearly and slowly. Practice in front of a mirror, or in front of your computer camera. But don't sound fake and is you are reading a script or playing a part. I hate those public speakers who show the tricks they have learnt on a training course in the way that they stand, and move, and speak. Tony Blair was like that when he first became Prime Minister, although he got better.

    And, above all, know your stuff! It will show, if you are speaking and you don't really understand what you are saying :)
  28. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    I would have to do a lot of practice and be 100% on my subject to do public speaking, it fills me with foreboding such that the most I will speak in front of is a handful of people.

    I was once headed for a meeting in which I was expected to speak in front of an unspecified invited crowd, I had been asked by my company not to bring either a prepared speech nor any product samples, rather to get a debate going and just speak off the cuff. I was quite worried about it but in the end there were no more than 10 people there and they seemed dissapointed that 1) there was no prepared speech and 2) there were no product samples :)
    Guineveretoo likes this.
  29. comrade spurski

    comrade spurski Well-Known Member

    video will be able see some issues (body language, fidgeting etc) and hear if you are speaking clearly and expresively. If you know anyone who won't take the piss (too much) ply it to them to get constructive criticism.

    Finally look at other people's and online and note what you like and what annoys or irritates you as this will help you when planning your talks.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  30. stuff_it

    stuff_it stirred the primordial soup

    A friend of mine found Toastmasters very helpful. You can try different groups until you find one that suits you, and several are female-specific and even female-in-certain-industry specific.
    Cloo likes this.

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