How to Master the Art of Public Speaking (Challenge)

by Jennifer Riggins

In order to help you master the art of public speaking, we are going to offer you some practice. You can play along at home and tell us how you did in the comments below!

Presentation Challenge Day 1: Give a kudo!

This is either an amplified way to give a kudo or a more mellow alternative to a wedding toast. Stand up and show your appreciation for someone — your partner or a colleague perhaps — by giving a short speech of gratitude and appreciation to them. (You decide if you’re holding coffee or champagne.) Acknowledging others is always a nice thing to do and it gets you into the practice of speaking aloud in a somewhat formal way.

Also Read: Power of the Gesture: Learn sign language for effective communication

Presentation Challenge Day 2: KISS!

And now, for the next exercise, try to condense a topic that you are really passionate about and could talk about for hours into a three-minute lightning talk. Just make sure to follow the first rule of journalism — Keep It Simple, Stupid — and keep it really to the point!

Presentation Challenge Day 3: Create a presentation about nothing! (Or cheese!)

Now it’s time to work on the physical aspect of your presentation that will last after your talk and hopefully land you a spot in Internet history. Create a presentation on something you love and can have fun with — the sillier the better. Now make slides to go with it following these tips:

  1. Don’t use white, yellow, bright pink, orange or red backgrounds — use high-resolution photos as much as possible and then darker solid backgrounds with lighter words.
  2. Don’t use more than three bullets or one line of text per slide.
  3. Keep a consistent color theme and use the same font. (It’s quicker this way anyway.)

I personally like using free stock photos from my constantly bookmarked list on Stock Photos that Don’t Suck. I particularly find the quirky, colorful, high-res photos of Gratisography and the old-fashioned ones of New Old Stock particularly fun and engaging during talks.

Consider uploading your slides to a website like Slideshare. I get good traffic to my website by simply uploading finished presentations on Slideshare. As a bonus challenge today, look back at your old PowerPoints and Keynotes — are they still relevant today? Spend about ten minutes going through making sure to make any tweaks or updates and to make sure it makes sense even if the viewer hadn’t heard your talk. Then upload your slides to Slideshare.net. Make sure you include a full http:// link in the description so folks can follow up with you afterward.

Presentation Challenge Day 4: Sell yourself!

At some point in your life, you’re going to have to sell the benefits you offer, whether it’s in a job interview, with a potential client, or riding an elevator. Best to hone that pitch now. Write your 30-seconds-or-less and share it, keeping these sales pitch rules in mind:

  1. State the problem and how you solve it.
  2. Who you help and how you help them.
  3. Try to do it in only a few sentences.

Also Review: How to pitch like a rockstar

Presentation Challenge Day 5: Bring it all together!

This is one you can work on all week, so you have it ready for Friday.

Start by following these steps:

  1. Answer: What conference would you love to speak at because it’ll really help move you forward in either your career or hobby?
  2. Answer: What topic would you love to present there?
  3. Write a response to a call for papers or presenters — about three paragraphs, offering a compelling skeleton of your talk, the problem, and the bullets of how you will teach to solve it.
  4. Now make an uber-condensed version of your talk — ten minutes or less, with slides, following the tips you learned this week. (Don’t go for perfect, go for done. But choose a topic you’re an expert in so you can get it done during your work week and that you’d feel comfortable with.)
  5. Feel good about what you’ve accomplished already! You’ve surely worked hard this week to not only get your pitch accepted, but to nail your talk, especially since you’ve already practiced. Great work!

Also Read: “How to speak at more industry events (we asked an expert)”

Also Review: How to keep that Imposter Syndrome at bay

What public speaking tips do you want to add to the list? How did your challenge go? What did you learn? Tell us in the comments below!

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