Let’s talk: turning tongue-tied journalists into better public speakers

We journalists like nothing more than the sound of our own voices.

We’ve got opinions on most issues – whether people ask us for them or not.

But when it comes to public speaking, the best of us can turn to jaw-locked jelly.

Whether it’s giving a presentation, introducing a speaker at an awards ceremony, or talking at a public meeting, the ease with which we can string a sentence together can desert us when those words are on a different screen.

So how can journalists be better at public speaking?

Here are some tips:

* grab your audience from the start:  kick off with something that will both put people at their ease and get them thinking.

* be yourself: humour – particularly of the self-deprecating kind – can be a great ice-breaker, but don’t force yourself into stand-up if you’re not comfortable with it.

* memorise and practise: Ed Miliband didn’t provide the best advert for the merits of committing a speech to memory last month, but it’s still far better than reading woodenly from a script. And you can’t practise too often.

* know your room: check the acoustics, the technology – including any microphones, and the general lie of the land where you are speaking.

* it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it: try to think about the impression you want to leave people with. You want your audience to be left with a feeling that you represent a confident, cutting edge, creative organisation.

* leave ’em wanting more: Aim to make just two or three key points and then shut up.

And finally, realise that people want you to succeed. They will mirror your behaviour and approach. If you’re relaxed, so will your audience be relaxed.

I’ll try to remember all this when I give a presentation this afternoon.

Wish me luck.

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2 thoughts on “Let’s talk: turning tongue-tied journalists into better public speakers

  1. You’ve never lived until you’ve had the Rotarians roaring in the aisles after three courses of gravy and custard.

  2. Speak for yourself. I’d rather eat my own eyeballs than speak in public.

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