Whether it's during a meeting, event, or preparing for a promotion, improving your public speaking skills will have a big impact on your career. We caught up with Ann Starodaj, Director of Sustainability at Optoro, and a mentor with The Mentor Method, to get her take on public speaking.
Let's start with what Ann suggests is a strong public speaker. "A good public speaker gives the audience something to talk about when they are walking away. There are a number of ways to make that happen, but I personally like when the speaker uses personal anecdotes and stories during their presentation. Stories are memorable, they help to break the ice between the presenter and the audience, and they can make the entire presentation feel a lot more genuine."
Organize your thoughts
Organization is key to delivering a strong presentation. "Make sure you understand what you are going to say and when you are going to say it." says Ann. Only have 10 minutes to prep? Optimize your time. "If you don't have time to create a full outline or script, at least make a list of take home messages and practice those. What do you want your audience to learn and how can you make sure they learn it?"
Talk slower and don't be afraid to take pauses throughout the talk
"Good public speaking is all about delivery. Most people talk faster in front of a live audience than when they practice." Ann's advice to make sure this doesn't happen to you is to set pauses throughout. "These breaks will not only help you gather your thoughts, but your audience, too, will appreciate a moment to gather their thoughts."
Don't read straight from a script
Reading straight from the script can ruin your credibility as a leader. "Most audiences will pick up on it and you risk losing their attention because of it. Take pride in your opportunity to speak publicly: practice and rely only on a notes."
When asked what resources Ann's used to become a stronger public speaker, her advice is simple. "I sound like a broken record, but I practice. I also think knowing your audience is really useful. I give a presentation each month as part of the New Employee Orientation program at Optoro, which has been a great way to practice my public speaking skills because the audience is slightly different every time depending on which department the employees are working in. Catering the content of the presentation to these differences audiences has been a good challenge. Good public speakers work in content or a story that the audience can relate to."