The centre piece of our meeting this week was a presentation by Len Maylin regarding the art of public speaking with particular reference to our 60 second efforts.
His own presentation itself was instructive. He spoke clearly and slowly with awareness of his audience throughout and interspersed his pearls of wisdom with humour and interesting information.
He opened by reporting an observation from a comedian that “the brain is a wonderful; thing, it starts working the minute you are born, never stops until you stand up to speak in public”.
He went on to speak of the fears of public speaking, even to the extent that at funerals the man in coffin can feel better than the man giving the eulogy.
Most interesting fact was that Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address took just 2 minutes to deliver. A speech to be immortal does not have to be eternal.
Specifically relating to our presentations the advice he gave might on reflection seem to be obvious but all the points he made are so often overlooked by us all from time to time. We should make sure we keep it simple, organise our material, err on the side of “less is more”. Inherent in all this is that you should spend some time prior to the meeting preparing your 60 seconds. Knowing what you are going to say before you stand up is one of the best ways of not only making your presentation successful but making sure you hit the 60 seconds rather than the 2 minute mark. It is unlikely that any of us will rise to the Gettysburg address which might otherwise warrant 2 minutes.
Most valuably he offered 4 suggestions as how to organise a presentation.
1. Point, Reason, Proof
The product is the point; why you should use it is the reason; the effect of it is the proof.
2. Problem, Cause, Solution
Problem – what do you suffer from; cause-what is it caused by; olution – this is what you should do to put it right.
3. Advantages – Disadvantages
Advantages – describe an interesting product and its advantages; the disadvantages of not using it are then described.
4. Past, Present, Future
In the past, we used to do this; today we don’t; we are developing this for the future
5. Hopes and Dreams
Do you dream about a particular product; this is how you can get one?
These suggestions were perhaps the central part of his presentation so far as we are concerned. In some way or other we all use these in part or in a mixture. Consciously applying them might just make it earlier for us to put a better 60 seconds together.
He wound his presentation up by a few tips regarding the delivery of our presentations.
Speak up, be clear, and make sure your 60 seconds is designed that you don’t have to talk too quickly. Clarity is essential.
Voice projection is important but more difficult to teach. Apparently its all about your diaphragm. From our point of view, we should just look to be clear and if we are prone to mumble speak up.
We should make eye contact with our audience during the 60 seconds even if we are reading from notes.
Finally, a warning about the use of the overhead projector. Get there in good time to ensure it is working properly; do not use it to put up detailed pieces of text, but use it for illustration purposes and stand away from the screen so the audience can see it.
Although I did make notes during his speech I do not attribute this Blog to total recall. Len was good enough to let me have his notes and I have 2 observations to make which show him exemplifying what he preached.
- The notes showed that he had carefully prepared what he was going to say and
- Was asked to speak for 20 minutes. He prepared with that in mind and he gave his presentation in the 20 minutes allowed.
We can all learn a lot from Len’s presentation.
Our thanks to Len.