Last week, I was a seminar speaker at a women’s forum held at Edison, New Jersey. I gave a one-hour talk on how to turn your passion into a profit-generating venture to a predominantly women audience.
Having taken the time out of the speaking loop after the birth of my second son this year, I felt I needed to brush up on my presentation techniques. And what a great coincidence: our partner Time Warner Books sent us several boxes of books they published this September, one of which is “Presentation S.O.S.: From Perspiration to Persuasion in 9 Easy Steps” by Mark Wiskup.
The book is thin, just 180 pages and is a very easy read (I love easy reads!). I have not read any books by Wiskup before, but I found him very engaging, direct, witty, even funny. The book’s goal is to make you lose your fear of the podium, but what I like best are his advice on what not to do. For example, he discussed the what speech openers you must absolutely NOT do (which in the past I have been guilty of):
- Do not thank the audience – build connection with the audience fast and thanking them is just a waste of time (“Prince, Madonna, Garth, Beyonce — all perform first and thank later…Speakers should learn from this lesson).
- Do not tell the audience how glad you are to be with them – again, rapport building is the first thing a speaker must do
- Starting with a joke is harder than it looks – do it only when you know you can be really funny, not cringe-inducing
- Don’t say “I’ve been asked to speak about” – it sounds like you want to speak about something else
- No apologies!
- Shouting good morning is trouble
One of the author’s suggestion that I followed — and really worked — was the importance of stories. Wiskup said that to be an effective speaker, you need to “create a specific story person who will help you define your presentation agenda.” And boy, was this technique so effective! The audience loved it and responded very well to stories. Given the topic of my speech, I included actual stories of home based entrepreneurs who succeeded (and yes, failed) complete with photos and website descriptions to drive home my message. I knew that actual examples are important, but I never saw them as critical and a must-have to the success of a presentation.
If you are going to speak in public, or is using public speaking as a way to market your business, this is a definite must-read book.