Last week, I had the honor to be invited to speak at the “Focus on Women — Solutions to Success” event at the Days Inn in Hobart.
I’m not sure why I was asked. I’m not a woman, and honestly, not terribly successful. I mean, I do all right. I still can’t figure out why they wanted me. But who cares. Right?
Did you know that according to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking? Number two is death. I’m not sure what number three is. I’m just guessing here, but it could be firecrackers or raw chicken.
I’ve never been afraid of public speaking engagements. Frankly, I can’t understand those who are. Just mosey up to the podium, say what you want, and then sit down, finish your Trout Almondine (probably cold by now), collect your check, and split. EASY!
Now I realize that everyone can’t be like me, at home in every social situation. SO, I’ve compiled a list of SOCKY’S SIX* SIMPLE SUPERB SPEAKING SUGGESTIONS™. *really 4
With these simple rules, you can easily become the life of any boring meeting, symposium, workshop, luncheon, banquet, dinner meeting, sales presentation, bachelor/bachelorette party, powwow, breakfast, retreat, convention, colloquium, appointment, argument, chat, colloquy, confabulation, conferring, congress, interchange, interview, consultation, conversation, convocation, deliberation, discussion, forum, sit-in, gabfest, huddle, meeting, palaver, plenary, round robin, round table, OR seminar.
Suggestion #1: Thou Shalt Not Be Boring. Do yourself a favor: DON’T start off with Hi, Hello, Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or any other generally accepted greeting. All the audience members have already greeted you (mentally / in their heads) — don’t waste time! Oh, and don’t tell them what you’re going to talk about. Keep it a mystery — like foggy old England! Think of your audience as Sherlock Holmes, and you can be Dr. Welby (or whatever his enemy’s name was!!)
Imagine the audience’s joy when they FINALLY crack the case of “The Cliffhanger at the Meeting!” Oh, and flail your arms a lot. Research has shown that audiences really go for that.
I can watch this guy for hours!
Suggestion #2: Practice, Practice, Practice. I know what you’re probably saying: “Socky, Sweetie. Practice is for suckers!“ Well, you’re probably right. The rule of thumb that most professional speakers follow is if you’re not willing to practice, make sure you get paid up front.
Suggestion #3: Get the Audience on Your Side! The French have an old saying: Personne n’aime un perdant, tout le monde aime une victime. Loosely translated it means: No one likes a loser, everyone likes a victim. Consider showing up to the gig (professional speak for your speaking engagement) with one of those whiplash collar things, or your arm in a fake cast and sling. You’d be surprised the magic that leftover Halloween makeup or some carefully placed ketchup can do! If their attention is drawn to your injury, they won’t have time to worry about your hastily prepared speech.
Here’s a pic of my friend, Ken, delivering a commencement address at beauty school or something. I’m sure he told me where it was taken, but he has an accent that’s hard to understand sometimes.
I should probably warn you though. Don’t try this trick that Tom tried. He actually had the nerve to pull up to speaking engagement for a Lion’s Club mixer in Elgin in an ambulance and actually had the “paramedics” he hired wheel him up to the lectern. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS!
Suggestion #4: If a meal is served after your WONDERFUL speech, make sure you fill up on the bread or dinner rolls that they put on the table. Oh, and the salad, too. Then take a small bite from the entrée, and have the rest wrapped to go. The same with dessert. Think of it as a free meal for the next day. Because that’s exactly what it would be.
If the meal is served during the speech, bring the basket of bread up to the podium with you —fill up there — and as soon as you get the attention of the waitress, make an announcement to have her wrap your food to go, and leave it with your check. (Assuming you haven’t been paid up front.)
Oh, and try to lay off the booze.
I hope that one or more of these suggestions help you become a better speaker. If one of these suggestions resonated with you, tell me which one in the comments below. I look forward to reading them as well as other speaking success suggestions you may have!
Your comments are welcome.