In Presentation Secrets a number of ‘public speaking experts’ share their hints and tips on how to give a presentation.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes
Make every presentation different
Famous explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes knows a thing or two about speaking in public. Most of his expeditions have required a significant amount of public speaking in order to get funding or sponsorship.
Ranulph Fiennes spent 8 years in the British Army including a spell in the SAS. He led an expedition that discovered the lost city of Ubar in Oman. He joined with nutrition specialist Mike Stroud to become the first to cross Antarctica unaided. Their journey of 97 days is the longest in South Polar history.
Ranulph Fiennes’ advice for speaking in public :
- Don’t treat every audience to the same presentation as though they were all mere listening machines. Wherever possible, make each audience think you care about them and you feel lucky or honoured to get the chance to address them.
- Don’t go on for too long!
Say what you mean
Tony Benn is a veteran politician and a well-known speaker. He served as a minister for 11 years including a period as Minister of Technology in the Harold Wilson Government. This was the time of the “white heat of technology” and he had the responsibility for overseeing the development of Concorde.
Tony Benn’s advice for making a speech :
- Say what you mean.
- Mean what you say.
- Don’t make personal attacks.
- Listen respectfully.
- Encourage people.
Give personal illustrations
Terry Waite CBE is a British humanitarian and author. He is best known for his work as a hostage negotiator who was himself held hostage.
He has been in constant demand as a lecturer, writer and broadcaster. There has been a particular interest in the lectures he has delivered relating his experiences as a negotiator and as a hostage to the pressures faced by executives and managers.
Terry Waite was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs under Robert Runcie. In 1987, as an envoy for the Church of England, he travelled to Lebanon to try and secure the release of four hostages including journalist John McCarthy. He was taken hostage for 4 years.
Today he is involved with a great many charities, including Emmaus (an organisation for the homeless) and has been a campaigner for the Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign
Terry Waite’s advice for speaking in public :
- Wherever possible give personal illustrations.
- Speak clearly.
- Be prepared to adapt what you have to say at the last moment to accommodate your audience.
Martha Lane Fox
Martha Lane Fox, together with Brent Hoberman, founded Lastminute.com in 1998, an online travel business that generated great publicity. Thanks in part to Martha’s communication skills the company became an icon of the UK internet boom, floating at the peak of the dot-com bubble but managing to survive its subsequent burst.
Martha is a Non-Executive Director of Channel 4.
Martha Lane Fox’s advice for giving a presentation :
- 80% of your speech or presentation will be forgotten! I think the most important thing to remember is your tone and pace.
- Be optimistic, sound cheery and smile. That’s what people will remember.
Sir John Harvey-Jones
Don’t be afraid to state the obvious
Carol Jones from Select Speakers remembers advice that she was given on speaking by Sir John Harvey-Jones.
Sir John Harvey-Jones was chairman of ICI from 1982 to 1987. He is probably best known for his BBC television show Troubleshooter, in which he advised struggling businesses.
John Harvey-Jones’s advice for speaking in public :
- Don’t be afraid to the state what is obvious to you, it may not be obvious to the audience.
- “Give them passion”.
We are very pleased to have received another piece of advice to our Presentation Secrets column. This time it is from the veteran politician Denis Healey.
Denis Healey is best known from his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1974 and 1979. Healey’s bushy eyebrows and soft-spoken wit earned him a favourable reputation with the public.
Denis Healey’s advice for making a speech:
- “When you get into a hole – stop digging” – In other words – if things start to go badly when answering questions, don’t make things worse.
Customise your material
Clive is a fully qualified barrister, having been called to the Bar in 1986, a comedy writer and radio presenter. He is the presenter of the BBC Radio 4 programme, ‘Law In Action’.
He has performed character-based sketches for Channel 5’s ‘Exclusive’ show.
For the past ten years, he has regularly performed on radio with credits including co-writing and performing in Radio 4’s ‘Control Group 6’ (nominated for the 1996 Writer’s Guild Award for Best Radio Comedy), Radio Five Live’s ‘The Game’s Up’, with Alistair McGowan; and ‘You Cannot Be Serious’, with Kevin Day. Other regular guest appearances include Radio 4’s ‘The Motion Show’, ‘Quote Unquote’ and ‘Loose Ends’.
Clive’s advice for speaking in public :
- Customise your material to the particular audience. However witty, fascinating, insightful or just drop-dead gorgeous you might be, people are generally even more interested in themselves than they are in you.
- Well-researched and targeted jokes about their world and the people in it (especially the senior people) will warm up a room like nothing else can. It pays off three times.
- The audience likes the fact that you as an outsider seem to have inside knowledge on the key players.
- The key players like to be mentioned – there’s only one thing worse than being mentioned and that’s not being mentioned.
- The audience feel great about their workplace. They like the fact that their bosses are good blokes (and lady blokes) who can take a joke.
- One word of warning. Do your research thoroughly and never, ever, offend anyone.
This is show business
Do women and men do business differently? Rikki Arundel thinks so and she should know – she has been both.
An expert in sales and marketing communications Rikki is openly and proudly transgender.
Rikki Arundel is the founding president of the Professional Speakers Association.
Rikki’s advice for speaking in public :
- The best piece of advice I was given about 10 years ago came from a good speaker friend Wayne (The Mango man) Pickering, who in turn credits it to Grady Jim Robinson -
- “It does not matter where you are speaking, what you are speaking about or who you are speaking to ‘This is Show Business.’ Any speech much entertain the audience.
- That doesn’t mean it necessarily has to be funny, though that helps, but it has to be entertaining otherwise you might as well write out the speech and send it to the audience to read. And the secret to making a speech entertaining is storytelling – every good speaker must develop the art of storytelling.”
Watch out for the Negative Glarer
Chloe is a storyteller and her stories relate to all sorts of situations in business and personal life.
Chloe’s advice for speaking in public :
The best advice I was ever given – because this really does happen! – is:
- “In every audience there will be one person who loathes you on sight. Can’t stand your voice, hates your clothes, assumes you’re stupid. Usually they’re in the front row glaring at you.
- IGNORE THEM.
- You cannot win this person over, however brilliantly you speak – if you performed a genuine bona fide 24 carat miracle there and then in front of them, they’d sniff at it.
- Yes, it is difficult and unpleasant to feel those negative vibes coming at you but your job is to work with the rest of the audience, who are quite ready to listen. If you focus on Negative Glarer you will try too hard, and you will confuse and lose the normal portion of your audience!
- “Negative Glarer sometimes turns out to be short sighted and hearing impaired, sitting in the front and frowning horribly in their willing effort to listen to you!
- “Most of these Negative Glarers just want to leave the room as soon as possible, not interested in questions, in fact they didn’t want to attend in the first place…
- If Negative Glarer asks a hostile question, make sure you LISTEN, and be ready to gently ask them to say a little more – this gives you time to be sure you’ve understood them properly, i.e. are they really hostile? and time to think of something to say.
- Never ever respond aggressively – even if you’re right, the whole audience will resent you for picking on that poor questioner…
- In the face of gratuitous hostile questioning, invite comment from the audience. Steer hostility away from you. Early in my speaking career I was interrupted by an arrogant prat of a managing director who sneered ‘I’ve been here an hour and I haven’t heard anything useful yet!’ Luckily I was bereft of speech – luckily, because the whole of the rest of the audience rounded on him and told him to shut up. He behaved like a lamb for the rest of the day…”
- Remember most audiences want your presentation to go well!
The unanswered question
Peter Ryding is a Company Doctor, CEO mentor and author of the book “Well I never knew that!”
Peter’s speaking tip :
- Ask the audience a relevant question that they have probably never asked themselves, but now they have heard it they really want to know the answer – and then tease them by only answering it at the end of the presentation.
- For example, at a rugby dinner ask why a “try” is called a “try”, or at an investment function why is the dollar sign a crossed out “S” ?
- Audiences love it!
Remember the three E’s
Jo Owen is a serial entrepreneur, author and business speaker.
He is the author of ‘Management Stripped Bare’ and ‘Hard Core Management’, both published by Kogan Page
Jo’s advice for speaking in public :
Remember the three E’s:
If you don’t have them, no one else will.
- A little Expertise will also make it easier for you to enjoy the event (if we want to go into alliterative overload).
Frank Ryding is an extraordinary man. “He spends the daytime in the operating theatre trying to keep people asleep and the evenings in the theatre trying to keep them awake.”
Frank has worked for the International Red Cross since 1980 co-ordinating war surgery hospitals in the world’s conflict and disaster zones. When not abroad he works as an anaesthetist in Hereford and also runs drama workshops and writes plays.
Most recently he led a Red Cross support team to Thailand after the tsunami and returned with bereaved families for the Anniversary Memorial Services. In 2005 he was a member of the ICRC Pakistan Earthquake Surgical Team which set up a mobile hospital at the site to treat the victims.
Frank’s advice for speaking in public :
- The best funny anecdotes are the ones you tell against yourself – they seldom fail and the audience is on your side from then on.
Lose the PowerPoint
Mike is a Fellow of The Professional Speakers Association.
He has made frequent appearances on television and radio, and is a regular commentator in the Financial Times.
He is the co-author of “The Beermat Entrepreneur” series of books.
Mike’s tip for speaking in public :
- Lose the PowerPoint – tell memorable stories with learning points instead.
Will Kintish is a Professional Speaker and Trainer.
In the last 6 years he has presented to 31,232 people.
Will’s tip for presenting :
- Be passionate and show enthusiasm.
Both are catching.
Get rid of any negative or limiting beliefs
Seven is an Executive Coach Master Practitioner in NLP and Time Line Therapy, Master Hypnotist, Coach and a Reiki level 2.
She is the Author of ‘The Journey’ A self help book for women to help them achieve clarity, happiness and fulfilment’ and ‘More Than Men and Make-up – Empowering you to achieve success and happiness’
Seven’s tips on presenting :
- Get rid of any negative or limiting beliefs about presenting – otherwise at best it’s like carrying a big burden which is weighing you down and at worst you will sabotage your efforts.
- Be yourself – create the you brand and image – it’s far easier than trying to copy anyone else and also is a great differentiator.
- Be in your optimum presentation state – for me this is calm, connected, energised, curious, happy.
Know your subject
Karen is the CEO of Eventure, a dynamic events management company based in Cardiff.
Karen’s speaking tip :
- Know your subject and know it well or else don’t stand up!
25 September 2006