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Here Are Some Tips for Speaking in Front of Live Audiences

By Jim Gillespie | September 12, 2012

Speaking in front of live audiences can be a good way to promote yourself as a commercial real estate broker, and a good way to get more new business, too. You can find opportunities to speak for 10-30 minutes or so at events like economic forecasts, chamber of commerce events, business networking events, as well as meetings for trade organizations for professionals such as attorneys, CPAs, and any other industries you’d like to be representing.

If you’re not a professional speaker and you pay attention to the following simple guidelines, you’ll help ensure that you’ll deliver a solid presentation that’ll be well-received by your audience.

1) When you’re planning your presentation, design it sequentially with numbered items or bullet points, and for each item write one word or several words describing a subject, a concept, or an idea that you can then speak on extemporaneously for maybe 2-5 minutes. Have each subsequent item then flow sequentially from the beginning all the way to the end of your presentation, so that when you’ve completed speaking about these items, you’ve then completed your presentation. And if you’ll be utilizing PowerPoint, you can then design your slides to follow this exact same sequencing, too.

2) Don’t feel compelled to have to open your speaking presentation with a joke. I remember reading a funny story about an American speaker who was speaking in Asia in front of an Asian audience. He opened his speaking presentation and spoke for about 10-15 seconds before then pausing, and when he paused the audience then broke into laughter right in front of him. He turned to his translator and asked him, "Why did the audience just laugh at me?", and the translator then told him, "They know that American speakers always like to open with a joke, so when you paused they thought it was then their turn to laugh." So don’t feel compelled to have to open with a joke, because unless it’s a good one and it’s really appropriate for your audience, you can begin sounding trite right away.

3) Utilize stories whenever possible to illustrate what you’re communicating to the audience. People love listening to stories, and if you’ve got one that represents a real-life experience around what you’re trying to communicate to them, and you believe that the story will really help to drive your point home and/or entertain them, utilize it!

4) Rehearse your presentation before you ever deliver it live, so that you’ll both nail it and know that you’ll remain within the allotted time you’ve been given. One of the greatest mistakes I see people making within this arena…people who are not professional speakers…is they get concerned that they may not have enough material to speak about for their entire allotted time. So they then pack a ton of material into their presentation, they don’t rehearse the presentation to find out how long it’s actually going to take to deliver, and then they end up going way over their allotted time slot…and getting the director of the event very angry!

Don’t be one of those speakers!

5) When you’re planning your presentation, ask yourself "What mental and emotional state do I want to leave my audience in at the moment that I’ve completed my presentation?" And in answering this question, is there a story that you can tell at the end of your presentation that you believe will both leave them in this state, and help you to illustrate one of the main points that you’d like them to learn? If there’s a story that you can tell that you believe will accomplish this, and maybe even get them to laugh when you’re telling it, this is a great way for you to leave the audience when you’re walking off the podium.

When you’re not a professional speaker, speaking can become much easier than many people believe it can be. When you’re speaking occasionally at business events for maybe 10-30 minutes or so, and you follow these simple guidelines, you can deliver presentations that will both inform and entertain your audience.

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