By Yvonne Ortega
Are you an author who never signed up to be a speaker? Do you feel more comfortable behind your laptop in a corner at Starbucks, a study room at the public library, or in a quiet room at home? Do you prefer talking with an intimate group of people?
If you answered any of those questions in the affirmative, you may still find yourself speaking at large gatherings, book signings, and writers conferences.
On the other hand, I’m a speaker who writes. In this post, I’ll share tips to help you put power into your point when you use slides. Then, you will feel more confident as you promote your books and services and deliver your presentation with polish.
Speak in a Conversational Manner.
Speak in a conversational manner as you do with family, friends, or coworkers. Sometimes in a conversation you get excited and speak faster. Other times you slow down. Do the same in your presentations.
The first delivery mistake to avoid is speaking too fast. Some authors race through their message and don’t pronounce their words clearly.
At the beginning of his speech, I heard an author tell the audience, “I normally have four hours to deliver this presentation. So, I’ll talk as fast as I can and make sure I give you all the information in the one hour I have.”
He sounded as if he were trying to escape from a burning building. When he finished, he was breathless. Most of the men and women in the audience gave up trying to keep up with him. They stopped taking notes long before he finished.
English as a Second Language individuals in the audience struggled to understand, frowned, and shrugged.
That presenter didn’t put power into his point.
Speaking too slowly is no more effective than speaking too fast. When I first starting speaking, I would speak slowly as if I were reading a bedtime story to children. Imagine the challenge it would be to stay awake for that kind of delivery.
When I spoke too slowly, I didn’t put power into my point.
Remember that neither a fast rate all the way through the speech, nor a slow one works. Speak in a conversational manner.
Don’t Read Your Slides.
In addition to speaking too fast and speaking too slowly, another delivery mistake you want to avoid is reading your slides. If all you do is say what’s on your slides, you’re competing with yourself, and the audience loses. The audience must choose among looking at the screen, reading their handouts, or watching you. Unfortunately, they will probably mentally check out of your presentation.
If all you do is read your slides, you might as well send the slides via email. Save your audience the trip to your speaking engagement, and save yourself the time to dress up and travel there.
Keep Your Slides Simple.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “Less Is More.” Laura Edelman and Kathleen Harring from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA conducted a survey of college students to find out what they liked and didn’t like about their professors’ PowerPoint presentations.
The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University online posted the results without a date on the article.
Edelman and Harring showed that the students disliked too many words on a slide, clip art, slide transitions or word animations, and templates with too many colors.
Also, the students found verbal explanations of pictures or graphs more helpful than written clarifications.
With the above in mind, create your message first, and then make your slides. Use only a few slides.
Each of your slides should have one graphic, one chart, or one graph. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words.
At a writers conference, a speaker had crowded the slides with so much text in a small font that it was impossible to read them. Even those of us in the first row couldn’t read them.
Avoid crowding each slide with one bullet point after another. Your slides should reinforce or enhance your speech, not give it or distract from it. If you put text on your slides, use less than ten words per slide.
To wrap up, here are the main points again:
*Speak in a conversational manner.
*Don’t read your slides.
*Keep your slides simple.