Before becoming a keynote speaker I will admit I was afraid of public speaking. As far back as I can remember the fear of getting up in front of any group made my heart beat fast and my nerves run wild. It took me almost 10 years to be comfortable giving a speech on the big stage. In this blog post I am sharing the tips and practices that have helped me not only lose the jitters but truly adore the stage!
What’s a Keynote?
The First Step – The Writing Your Keynote
First off you have to something interesting to say! Once you have decided on your topic, it’s time to get your thoughts out of your head and onto the paper. Dig deep and uncover your unique perspective/point of view on the topic. What do most people need to hear as it relates to your topic? I do a little exercise here that helps me when creating a new keynote. I write out the marketing blurb and include the 4 or 5 learning objectives that the presentation will cover. This exercise helps me get onto paper the “Chunks” I will cover in the body of my keynote.
Create a title that sizzles and sells! Remember you are appealing to two different buyers: the meeting organizer who is looking for a presentation that meets the topic requirements and the attendee wants it to be engaging and relevant to them
This is the foundation and underlying theme of your speech. Weave ideas, strategies, and stories throughout the presentation that are in alignment with your message. Stay on point!
Start Strong! Right off the bat you have to smile, engage, impress and earn likability. The audience is thinking, “Yes I want to listen to her!” or “Time to checkout Facebook.”
As you are ending your opening tell the audience why they need what you are going to share, answering the “What’s in it for me? You might say something like, “At the end of this session you will leave with three proven strategies to closing the sale!”
Now we are in the content part of your presentation. Break your content into 3 to 5 sections I call “Chunks”. Each chunk could be filled with facts, examples, a story or two, maybe a short video, and interactive activity.
If you are asking for questions do it after your chunks and before your closing. Do not end with the Q&A. You want to end upbeat and positive with your message and call to action alive in their head and heart! So you say, “Before I close are their any questions?”
End STRONGER!! Uplifting, positive, even happy closing work best. You want to leave the audience upbeat and happy they attended the presentation and the conference. The Closing is where you stimulate thought and inspire the listener to take action. Closings are a great place to have a “call back” to things you touched upon earlier. When you come to the end, say Thank you and the name of the group that you are speaking to… not your name.
Preparation – Practice Your Presentation
Don’t wing it or shoot from the hip! Practice – Practice –Practice… and the Practice some more. The more comfortable you are with your presentation the more you will relate and connect with your audiences. Get your opening, your close and your stories down solid. That means practice until you have it memorized. You want to start strong and end stronger.
In addition take time to time your opening, chunks, stories and your closing. Speakers have to be adaptable especially when the CEO, or Mayor, or another speaker takes more than the allotted time and your segment has been cut short. You have to know how to shave minutes or even a segment from your presentation.
The day of the presentation arrive early (60 t0 90 minutes) and make friends with your AV as you go through your sound and AV check and make sure your slide advancer works. Don’t forget a bottle of water, just in case. Walk around on the stage and get comfortable. As the attendees arrive, walk around and meet and greet them. It’s remarkable how this will relax you. And then it’s Showtime! After each presentation take some time to reflect on your performance. Think about the audience reactions; where did you feel their enthusiasm and energy. Did you get a house laugh or just chuckles? What can you add and what can you eliminate for your next presentation.
So in closing, I hope it takes you less than ten years to enjoy and love giving presentations! Remember you will improve each time you present. Things just get better and better!
Karen McCullough is a nationally known keynote speaker and expert on change, generational opportunities and workforce trends.
Karen helps organizations cut through the generational biases and get back to reality by leveraging their team’s strengths, enriching the work environment, and driving better results. Each of her presentations brings a realistic perspective on workplace trends, employee engagement, while offering actionable content.
For the past 15 years Karen has shared her insights to top organizations such as VMware, Procter & Gamble, US Department of Justice, JPMorgan Chase, Symantec, McGraw-Hill, National Homebuilders, Shell Oil, Mercedes Benz, The World Bank, American National Insurance, Humana, United Way, American Heart Association and MD Anderson Cancer Center.