Effective Presentation Blueprint | Speech Craft Guide from Start to Finish
Public Speaking, The Glue To Reinforce The Steps of Your Career Ladder!
Hi Darren Tay here, 2016 World Champion of Public Speaking.
I had the privilege of coaching a paediatrician (i.e. baby-doctor) some time back and it was an insightful experience; despite the wealth of medical knowledge she had, sharing it with her patients individually was a cakewalk but sharing it with a mass audience reduced her to a self-conscious, anxious, stammering and incoherent mess! She came to me when she was at a point where she felt that she is ready to advance upwards in her field but she knew that her new position would necessitate at least three public speaking engagements a year (imagine having to give a speech at a baby fair with hundreds of very “protective” and zealous parents).
What I learnt was that she had imposed a self-limiting belief from young that her talents reside in books and not interpersonal communication, resulting in a career-stifling social anxiety. Self-limitation is a powerful bane; I’m sure you have heard of the crippling elephant story where a trainer tied up one of the legs of an elephant from young, even when it was completely unnecessary as the leg was perfectly functional, leading the elephant to walk with a limp ever since even when the rope was removed. That imaginary rope is THE self-limiting belief. Instead of letting public speaking weigh you down, would you like to make use of public speaking to create more freedom in your life? Freedom from self-limiting beliefs? What I’m about to share with you may not instantaneously eliminate your “ropes”, but can be used to start loosening it!
Wait! Before the step-by-step guide – Remember To Breathe…
Watch: [Public Speaking Academy] Mindfulness For Stage Anxiety/Fright
I understand that this may come as a no-brainer and you must be thinking “Oh thank you for the breakthrough thought Darren…breathe and I will not get nervous on stage…”, but breathing is an underestimated relaxation technique! Before you take the stage, instead of trying to speed through your speech in your mind (that’s not going to help much at that point, you have already memorised and rehearsed it enough), count 1 when you breathe in and count 2 when you breathe out, focus on nothing but your breathing. If you don’t like counting 1 & 2, FEEL the breathe then – feel the coolness of the air up your nostrils when you inhale and feel the chest sink when you exhale. Believe me, it soothes the tension coursing throughout your body.
Here’s the step-by-step presentation guide:
We understand fully – Delivering engaging and impactful presentations is a crucial ability that can have a significant impact on both your personal and professional life. You want to make sure that your audience is attentive and interested in what you have to say whether you’re giving a presentation at work, school, or in a public speaking situation. We’ve compiled tips (from pre-presentation to post-presentation) on giving speeches that are both interesting and effective to assist you in achieving greater speaking prowess!
Step #1. Know Your Audience (pre-presentation prep)
Consider who your audience is before you start organizing your presentation. Think about the audience’s age, history, interests, and the purpose of the presentation. You can use this knowledge to adjust your presentation to their needs and maintain their interest throughout.
To research your audience for a speech, consider the following steps:
- Determine the age, gender, educational attainment, cultural background, and occupation details of your audience.
- Identify the interests, issues, and needs of the audience that are relevant to the speech’s subject. Ask the event organizers or human resources manager at the business to find out how to achieve this using questionnaires, interviews, web research, or anything else!
- Examine the speech’s setting, including the venue, time of day (before or after lunch – consider the likelihood of a “food coma”), and the event’s objectives.
- Think on any particular demands or expectations the audience or event organizers may have for the speech (must it fit a specific theme of the event etc.).
Step #2. Define Your Objective (pre-presentation prep)
Your presentation should have a clear goal in mind. What do you hope your listeners will learn from your speech? What steps do you want your audience to do after the presentation? You can maintain focus and make sure that your presentation is effective by having a clear purpose – to educate, to persuade, to motivate?
Example objective for a persuasive speech:
To convince the audience to take up the 21-day 5-minute-a-day mindfulness meditation challenge – to promote mental health awareness
Example objective for an informative speech:
To educate the audience on a new emerging technology – e.g. ChatGPT – how to use artificial intelligence (A.I.) to make routine work 10 times more efficient!
Step #3. Craft Your Speech – the structure of your speech matters! (pre-presentation prep)
Once you have a clear understanding of your audience and objective, it’s time to start formulating your presentation structure:
Make a compelling opening statement, then move on to three to five brief points. An audience member is more likely to remember 40% of your content after 30 minutes, 60% after the end of your speech, and 90% at the end of the day if your speech is well-structured, according to research. You can strengthen audience’s information retention by doing this:
- Ramp up your audience’s interest by engaging their senses using images, graphs, sketches, and humor (click for the our tips on – How to be Funny) rather than remaining motionless and droning on and on about the data and numbers You might also ask your audience to picture or imagine the tastes, images, and sensations.
- Use brief headlines to keep things concise (you can always explain in detail later). Imagine this heading – “The summation of present values of future cash flows by discounting them with an estimated rate of return, assuming a constant rate of…”. Oh my, do you know how many of your audience members will fall asleep? Why not rename it “How to Price a Bond Accurately”? Avoid using non-universal jargon, slang, abbreviations, and acronyms unless you specifically make an effort to explain them at the start.
- Use “I believe…”, “I recommend…”, “I cannot emphasize this enough…”, “If there is one thing I wish you would take away from this speech is…,” and other attention-getting or call to action phrases throughout your speech. A thrilling and captivating conclusion, such as having audience members join in and utter a key point with you, is a great way to round it off. At this stage, concentrate on the delivery and thoroughly memorize this segment. This always works, I promise.
Step #4. ’Perfect’ Practice Makes Perfect (Pre-presentation prep)
Your presentation will get better the more you practice. To make sure you don’t go over your allotted time, time yourself as you practice your presentation multiple times. Keep an eye on your body language and alter as required. You can gain confidence and lessen your worry on the day of your presentation by adopting these best practices:
- Time yourself and make any revisions to guarantee that your presentation, with or without props, slides, quizzes, audience surveys, illustrations, product demonstrations, etc., fits inside the allowed time.
- Practice adding stress and emphasis on key points and conveying confidence with your body language (click for tips on strong body language!), hand gestures (click for tips on hand gestures for greater impact!) and stage movements.
- Consider and prepare responses to any inquiries that your audience may have (click for tips on handling tough Q&A sessions, difficult questions).
- Consider taking a videos of yourself during a practice session and reviewing it to spot your weak points.
- Learn how to use the technology and apparatus you’ll be utilizing throughout the presentation, and have a backup plan ready in case something goes wrong.
Watch: How To Prepare For Your Speech, Rehearse Like A World Champion
Step #5. Use Storytelling Techniques (Pre-presentation prep)
Storytelling strategies can help keep your audience interested in your presentation because people love stories. Make your presentation more memorable by illustrating your arguments with examples and anecdotes. Keep your story relevant to your audience and aim, and use clear, succinct language.
Although the adage “Facts tell, Stories sell,” is true, we would add that stories only succeed when they are skilfully delivered. You must be able to plan, develop, and deliver an attention-grabbing story, whether it is spoken or written, to an audience. A compelling narrative can take the audience on a journey and make them share the characters’ feelings and experiences.
Utilizing the Story Curve or the 4Cs is, in our opinion, a crucial step in the story-building process. Characters, Conflict, Climax, and Conclusion make up this. The Story Curve is an easy tool for you to use to learn how to add tension or conflict to a story. It is a simple, beginning point guidance on how good stories are constructed. That said, it is not enough to just apply the Story Curve mindlessly.
- Characters – essentially means setting the scene, include descriptions for the main characters in your story (e.g. your nemesis, your mentor, your hero, your motivator, your detractors), facial expressions and features, inner thoughts, emotions. The backdrop? Where it took place – the things you can hear, can smell, can see, can taste.
- Conflict – essentially means the challenge, the obstacle, the pain-points. No story is good without a setback or obstacle. Can you imagine the story of ‘Cinderella’ being Cinderella was well-treated at home by the step sisters and need not rush back home before midnight, met Prince Charming and got married effortlessly and voila! Happy ever after…we need a gnawing problem in a good story.
- Climax – essentially means the turning point/ tipping point/ the resolution of the problem. How was it resolved? Through the help of your mentor? The grind that you had to go through, what was it like? How did it feel?
- Conclusion – essentially means the learning lesson – what is the main takeaway for your audience – the moral of the story!
P.s. Click for our full series on Effective Storytelling for Powerful Presentations
Watch: How I weaved three stories in my semi-finals winning speech
Step #6. Keep it Simple (Presenting time – delivery)
Less is more when it comes to presentations. Avoid using technical terms that your audience might not comprehend and speak plainly. Keep your focus on your main ideas and your slides organized and clutter-free.
- Keep your message brief and clear: Use plain language, stay away from technical jargon, and concentrate on the key ideas.
- Maintain interaction: To keep them interested and aid in their understanding of the material, encourage audience members to participate in discussions and ask questions.
Prepare a one-sentence statement, or what we like to call a statement of last resort or quick-exit point. Following the completion of your whole script or speech preparation, you should go through it and sum up the important elements of your speech in one or two phrases. This practice serves two purposes. When you are giving your speech and you realize that you are running out of time, you will first be able to identify the topics that you have not covered. Additionally, by delivering your last-ditch statements directly, you are able to present the remaining important arguments of your speech itself quite quickly.
For instance, you can incorporate transitional words as you employ your statement of last resort. For instance, “Ladies and gentlemen, I realized I have a little bit of time left. I’ll simply make two brief statements for the remaining parts of my speech in the final two minutes, and that will be the end of my speech for today. In order to express your essential points to your audience or to whoever is watching your presentation or speech itself, you simply employ your last resort statement—last resort meaning you should strive to avoid it until the very last resort.
Step #7. Use Visual Aids for greater impact (Presenting time – delivery)
Slides, graphs, and other visual aids can significantly improve your presentation. They can aid in the simplification of complex concepts, increase the recall of your points, and maintain audience interest. Keep your visual aids straightforward and pertinent to your presentation when using them.
The key here is – Simplicity!
When creating your slides, the most important thing to remember to ask yourself is, “How can I express this point in the fewest words possible?” The solution to that frequently requires making good use of visuals or making sure that your slide just contains a summary (instead of a wall of text!).
Your slides can also include a side navigation bar (e.g. backdrop —> analysis —> recommendations (you are here!) —> conclusion) to serve as reference points for your audience members to keep them in the loop, hence keeping them engaged!
P.s. Click for our tips on powerpoint presentation slide design
Step #8. End with a Strong Closing (Presenting time – delivery)
The conclusion of your presentation is equally as crucial as the beginning. Reiterate your goal, summarize your main points, and leave a lasting impression on your audience.
- Encourage them to take action by asking questions, going to your website, or subscribing to your social media accounts.
- Revisit your speech’s main ideas in brief: Reiterate briefly your main points and supporting facts to jog the audience’s memory.
- Encourage your audience to behave in some way in response to what you’ve provided.
P.s. Click for our tips on crafting a killer conclusion
Step #9. Follow Up (Post-presentation)
Take the time to follow up with your audience after your presentation (through directly contact or through the organizers). Thank them for their time, and their feedback is much-appreciated. Utilize constructive feedback to hone your presentation abilities and make your upcoming presentations even more compelling and engaging.
In conclusion, giving a presentation that is both engaging and effective requires planning, repetition, and a desire to interact with the audience. You may make sure that your presentations are well-received and memorable by paying attention to these pointers. All the best!
P.s. If you next presentation is a persuasive speech, click for our tips on How To Effectively Deliver Painless, Engaging and Impactful Presentations