Learning and Evaluation/News/Learning Days for Wikimedia Conference 2017/Leadership Development track/Public Speaking skills

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Why does public speaking matter?[edit]

  • All speaking is public speaking
    • intentional or not: we communicate a lot without thinking about it, without preparing
    • we are always communicating, even when not speaking: our body language and the way we say our words also affects the way they are interpreted.
  • Ineffective speaking is composed of habits we have had all along.
    • Change your ineffective behavior, or you repeat it
    • We all have distorted view about ourselves. Seek feedback. Or videotape yourself and see how you are seen.
    • Practice, practice, practice! to improve your message and delivery
  • Aristotle said that all communication is goal oriented and audience centered.
    • Audience is generally wondering: what’s in it for me?
    • Adapt your message to your audience. You can’t change your audience (for the most part) and their biases, but you can create a message that speaks to them.
  • So, what’s in this course for you?
    • You will learn how to hone your message for a specific audience and improve your ability to deliver that msg with any audience
    • If you put in the effort, you will become a more effective communicator!

SOCO/Purpose Statement[edit]

Most important thing to remember when you start preparing and all the way through your delivery: SOCO/Purpose Statement


  • Audiences have a hard time remembering more than one point.
  • Get this message in early and often
    • Preparing your SOCO/purpose statement ask yourself:
      • What do you want your audience to know? 

      • What do you want your audience to feel? 

      • What do you want your audience to do?

Overcoming our fear[edit]

  • As long as you have a strong main message to stand on, and are able to support that message, you should feel confident. Most of your preparation time should focus on refining the SOCO and delivering it in a compelling way.  If you feel you are getting lost, go back to your SOCO.  

Establish a routine[edit]

  • Check the microphone
  • Meditate to relax
  • Exercise to reduce stress
  • Tongue twisters to warm up
  • Practice, practice practice!

Let’s rethink (and reuse) stress[edit]

  • Most of us experience stress under high pressure situations like public speaking. We physically feel the symptoms of stress. This stress isn’t necessarily bad.
  • New scientific research from Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison around stress has provided some really interesting results. For years we have been hammering home how stress is bad and how much it negatively impacts your health. But new research has found that this is only the case when we view stress negatively….
  • Several studies have shown that a simple switch in the way we view stress can do wonders. If you think about your response to stress (the heart pounding, etc.) as your body’s attempt to rally and step up to the challenge of a difficult situation, you can drastically change its effects from harmful to beneficial.
  • What’s more -- When you view your stress response as helpful, you actually create the biology of courage. The hormones released and the way your body responds to them if you think of stress in this way actually mimics the way the human body responds in times of bravery.
  • So embrace the stress you feel -- it can actually help you succeed in your presentation.

Preparing your tools[edit]

Note cards[edit]

  • Have SOME notes -- as few as possible
  • Number your note cards
  • Use only keywords or phrases on your notes -- never full sentences
  • Exceptions are statistics, quotes, etc.

Practice your speech ahead of time. You will improve by delivering it to an audience and asking for feedback!

Visual slides[edit]

  • Can be your friend or your enemy. Use sparingly.
  • Your audience should be able to almost instantly scan your slides and grok them; if they have to actually read, you will lose them.
  • Keep slides under 10 words or a single data point/graph/photo
  • Don’t rely on your slides. Use them sparingly, like salt on a meal.
  • Avoid this situation. (VIDEO - 45 seconds)

Make it stick[edit]

Build your credibility[edit]

  • Demonstrate your expertise so folks will believe you and have trust in what you say
    • Or have someone introduce you -- they can do this for you.
  • WIIFM: What’s in it for the audience?
    • Put yourself in their shoes.
    • Speak to your audience’s beliefs and values.
  • Try to give the audience something to take home.
    • Try to provide something specific the audience can do almost immediately. No matter how inspiring your message, every audience appreciates learning a tangible way they can actually apply what they've learned to their own lives. Inspiration is great, but application is everything: So for this speech, I might ask you to go home and practice a speech in front of a friend or family member, and ask you to get feedback.
  • Tell stories to reach people’s hearts and minds.
    • Brain scans reveal that stories stimulate and engage the human brain, helping the speaker connect with the audience and making it much more likely that the audience will agree with the speaker’s point of view.
  • Always repeat yourself.
    • Your audience probably hears about half of what you say, and then they filter that through their own perspectives and remember very little of it. So create a structure that allows you to repeat and reinforce key points. First explain a point, then give examples of how that point can be applied, and at the end provide the audience with action steps they can take based on that point. Since no one can remember everything you say, what you repeat has a much greater chance of being remembered--and being acted upon. So repeat away!
    • Tell them, then tell them what you told them, then tell them again.

Tips on voice[edit]

  • We'll now spend some time giving you some tips about the impact of your voice and non-verbal delivery

Remember that some of this is cultural, and it's key to always know your audience to ensure your style works for them.

  • Enunciate.  
    • English skills vary at WMF and people can’t get your message if they can’t understand you.
    • Warming up with tongue twisters  
  • Be sure you are heard!
    • Test and practice in the room where you are delivering speech, if possible
  • Speak with expression & avoid a monotonous tone
    • vocal variety
    • avoid upspeak? It can be gendered? it makes it sound like you’re asking a question?
  • Control the pacing -- speak more slowly than you think sounds normal
  • Get rid of “ums” “likes” “you know” and other fillers: they are distracting!  (THIS TAKES A LOT OF PRACTICE)
    • What can help? Preparedness/confidence, using shorter sentences, telling stories. AWARENESS OF YOUR HABIT. PRACTICE.
    • Have a coach/friend to help you improve.
    • Watch yourself on video
  • Use strong language
    • Get rid of qualifiers. “I just think” -- they make you sound less powerful.
    • Don’t apologize  
    • Use inclusive language: WE
  • Use a pause.                                         People will pay attention.

Tips on Body  [edit]

  • Body language matters!
  • Take up space -- not something we are all comfortable with
    • Power pose; cite research by Amy Cuddy (TED talk): in anxiety producing events, power pose for 2 mins has been shown to decrease cortisol (stress hormone) and increase production of testosterone.
    • Take your stressful energy and build on your excitement.
  • Body stance during speaking
    • feet shoulder width apart
    • Shoulders back - square them
    • firmly grounded
    • AVOID swaying
    • AVOID defensive postures
    • AVOID deferential head tilt (dog surrendering, shows vulnerability)
  • Hands: what to do with ’em?
    • at side - leave em there, they won’t fall off.
    • AVOID hands in pockets
    • Use hands in powerful, big open handed gestures to draw attention  
    • Movement attracts the gaze, but not random movements
    • Use an open hand and large gestures
    • AVOID pointed finger (teacher, aggressive)
    • AVOID slapping your sides and change   
    • AVOID self touch, running fingers through our hair--it's distracting
  • Eye contact
    • Make contact with audience.
    • Connect with them.
    • Scan room in a W shape
    • Look at the forehead rather than the eyes if you prefer
  • Dress (very culturally dependent)
    • Neutral or dark colors
    • avoid patterns, huge jewelry, distraction
  • hair: keep it out of your eyes
  • Control the focus and...take up space!

To Conclude[edit]

We can ALL improve our public speaking through practice.