November 29, 2014

9 Lessons on Being a Public Speaker

Book Review By Guest Blogger: Hari KT  

Jennifer Kumar was kind enough to share the book Paid to Speak, Best Practices for Building a Successful Speaking Business. I would like to share with you some of my understandings and thoughts on the same. 
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Preparing Before Delivery 
Expect the unexpected. You should always remember this. It's also a good idea to be early on stage, so you can make sure everything is working. I have also noticed some speakers mentioning their hard disk crashed. In the era of cloud storage, keep your files somewhere online. For private storage, try Dropbox, and for public sharing try github.com or something similar. 

Creating Atmosphere 
Speakers are responsible for creating a friendly atmosphere. Audiences will appreciate this. Meeting and greeting each participant before the presentation is one way to create a friendly atmosphere. 

Clarify the objectives and agenda when you start your presentation. One of the good things when you present many topics is to summarize and confirm mutual understanding before continuing. It's one of the best ways to connect topics in your presentation. It is also a nice idea to stimulate the participant's thinking, and learning process (Let them do it with you as you go on).  

Helping the Audience Personally Relate to the Topic 
It’s a good idea to relate one example with the other, taking some names from the audience itself, so it is easy for them to recall than the names you put forward. Reading some local news paper and relating to it your subject also works! I have noticed some of the speakers doing this. 

Importance of Body Language 
The most interesting chapter I read is "Move Your Audience with the Right Body Language" by Patti Wood, MA, CSP. If you have carefully watched, our body speaks for us. You don't need to open your mouth. Your face, your eyes, your hands or arms, even your head movement is so powerful. This will speak for you. I was able to understand some of these important facts from this chapter. You should carefully read this awesome chapter.  

Dress For Success 
This chapter may be best suited for ladies. If you are not comfortable with a dress, don't wear it. The author even warns not to wear dresses which shows your body parts. 

Getting Feedback 
Another chapter that sounds great could be about how to get user details of who attended the session. Sharing the slides and demo code if they have and also asking them for some feedback. I feel this is a great idea which I missed doing. This way you will also get some testimonials.

Finding a Mentor or Guide
When I went to do my recent presentation at Open Source India (osidays) on @auraphp, I got some help and tips from one of the best speakers in the industry. He is none other Paul M Jones. Jennifer Kumar also helped me a lot in this success. It’s always good that you know whom to ask for help and tips. Getting your mentor at the right time will help you build your success. 

Speakers as Writers 
There are some tips for people who would love to write a book. I have worked with Packt publishers as a technical reviewer, and I know how hard it is. So, I can assume how hard it will be for the author. The editor, technical reviewers, and authors all works on such tight schedules. There are some chapters in this book which gives some tips on becoming an author.  

Blogging helps you to showcase your expertise. This is why speakers should blog. There is a chapter explaining more details on this. 

Delivering Speeches Virtually 
The book also takes you to the virtual world. Yes webinars, hangouts and other similar online applications are the most popular means nowadays. This is always an interesting way to go. But, it’s a different way than the normal lecture class. If you have direct eye contact, you can read from the eyes of the audience. But, this is not the case when doing webinars, screencasts etc. So, chapter 24 moves you through virtual world. 

Overall, I liked the book and the way different authors wrote from their experience. I felt the book covered all the aspects of being a speaker that are important from preparation, to audience involvement, to delivery approaches, book writing, licensing, ethics and so much more. I recommend you all to read it, if you love to give some public speech at some point of time.


Author Hari KT is a developer and an enthusiastic, budding public speaker in Kerala and beyond. Click here to see his website.

Purchase the book Paid to Speak from FlipkartAmazon or Kindle

Related Posts: 
Are you excited by your own presentation?  
Sitting presentations at face to face and virtual meetings   
Speaking confidently on the phone and in presentations   

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