Public Speaking by Susan Hill
You’ve been given the tremendous opportunity of speaking to a group – or perhaps you’ve requested it and now are wondering what you’ve done to yourself! Public speaking can help build your own and your school’s reputation, as well as give you an opportunity to help people know what is GOOD about education – if you have credibility as an authority. Take some time to prepare, and you’ll make a great impression.
- Set the stage. Write a brief 100 to 150-word introduction of yourself for the group leader. Include your name, your topic, why it’s important and what the audience will learn and your qualifications. If your name is difficult to pronounce, include a pronunciation guide.
- Map it out. If you don’t know where to start in writing your speech, use mind-mapping. Wikipedia has a good explanation and diagram of this method of staging your thoughts around a central theme. Think about the demographics of your audience and their needs as you’re brainstorming.
- Get it together: Use the three-point method of speech organization: introduction, content and conclusion or: here’s what I’m going to tell you, I’m telling you now and here’s what I told you.
- Grab them. Spend some time on your opening. Start positively, never with an apology about your nervousness or lack of public speaking experience. The first few minutes in any speech are critical. The audience believes you are the expert from your great introduction, and you are!
- Make them laugh. Humor is great, but be very careful with any jokes or offhand comments that might offend. Making the joke at your own expense is almost always safe and can be very engaging.
- Look at me. Making direct eye contact can be intimidating for some speakers, so try looking at the middle of people’s foreheads as you look around the room. No one will know you’re looking at their “third eye,” and it may help you to relax.
- Come out from the shadows. Try to escape the lectern if a portable microphone allows, holding a small piece of paper or note card to remind you of your points if needed. Gesture with your hands and include movement – not rocking or pacing, but natural walking.
- Exude energy. Be enthusiastic and animated in your voice and body language. Practice this as much as your actual speech.
- Tell a story. Even if your talk is meant to be theoretical, include the reality of a story or life example. We humans are hard-wired to respond to and remember stories; this is the basis of all cultures. A great story will make your speech truly memorable.
- Know when to fold. Keep within your allotted time, or a bit earlier to allow for questions. Recapture your primary points near the end. Think about a strong impression at the conclusion with a brief inspirational story, quote or thought-provoking question.
As with any new endeavor, public speaking becomes easier and more comfortable with practice. Take every opportunity to be a presenter, and more invitations and opportunities will follow for you in your role as a principal (or whatever level to which you aspire)!
© Susan Hill, MA, APR | Susan Hill Public Relations~Marketing | www.susanhillpr.com
For more suggestions related to designing your professional presence for success, you will want to access the Get a Plan! Guide® to Deliberately Designing Your Professional Presence, which is part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series. The Get a Plan! Guide® series will give you the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion – so that you can accomplish your goals more smoothly, i.e., peacefully, productively, and predictably.