What can you learn from a Champion Speaker to take your public speaking
We’ve all heard about the importance of eye contact, vocal variety and body language when speaking in public, but what other tips, tricks and tactics can you use to deliver a powerful, persuasive presentation? We asked Anthony Garvey, the 2023 Toastmasters International UK public speaking champion, to share with us five less well-known tips from his repertoire.
1. Practice your speech or presentation in the shower!
My shower makes a tremendous noise but it’s the perfect place to practice a speech, precisely because it’s incredibly distracting. It’s hard to concentrate on your delivery when you are being sprayed by a thunderous flow of water and that is precisely the point.
Any weaknesses you have in your presentation will become apparent pretty quickly. Perhaps it is a tongue-twisting phrase or expression, or a clever paragraph you simply can’t recall under pressure? Whatever the weak points are that you identify by practicing your speech in the shower, change them. When you are delivering your presentation for real, these are the pressure points where you might buckle, so change them to something you can more easily recall.
2. Nervous? Try a Little Positive Reinforcement
I quickly learned if you don’t tell people that you are nervous when you’re presenting, they won’t see it!
When presenting in front of an audience I have never met before, I like to try a little positive reinforcement. What I do is pop into the bathroom. Ideally it has long, rectangular mirrors. I look into the mirror and say:
“You can do this. You’ve done it before. You’ll do it again.”
Just be careful to make sure there is no-one else in the bathroom with you at the time, or they might think you are having difficulties of a different kind.
3. Deliver your opening 60 seconds without any slides at all
You’ve prepared a top-quality slide deck, practised delivering it and you are ready to go. Now that the audience is looking at you, I suggest you do something unexpected. Turn the slides off and speak without notes for a full minute.
Perhaps you can speak from the heart about the importance of the presentation or maybe you can share the key points you want them to remember, hours, days or weeks after your speech? Whatever it is you want to communicate, take sixty seconds at the beginning to really connect with your audience. It’s memorable, impactful and surprisingly effective.
I train sales teams across the UK, helping them to win business. They often produce elegant, well-crafted slide decks, but if there is the opportunity to ditch the slides during the pitch and talk directly to the company about their challenges and opportunities, I encourage them to grab it with both hands.
It allows the sales team to introduce their suggestions, build on their plans, and start to flesh out some of their proposals. While the other firms at the pitch process are talking about credentials, our sales teams are on the fast track to building trust, by working on the company’s problems.
And if you really want to make a powerful impact with your slide deck, send it to the client at the very end of the meeting as a way of adding value to the relationship you have built.
4. Use the Event Organiser to Your advantage
When I turn up at a big event or a conference, I write down how I would like to be introduced to the audience, print it out on a cue card and hand it to the person who is introducing me. Depending on the audience you are speaking to, you may wish to emphasise different elements of your background and experience. It makes a big difference when you are introduced correctly.
If there is a Q&A session at the end, it can also help if you ask the event organiser to ask you a question, one that you have already pre-prepared an answer to. This helps get the Q&A session off to a good start.
5. Drop into a local Toastmasters club
I’ve been an active member of Toastmasters for many years. It’s an organisation for people who want to improve their communication and leadership skills. You can come as a guest and learn by watching and listening or you can join and as a member, gain feedback as you deliver speeches, carry out roles and complete projects and learn how to run meetings effectively and to time.
Where Toastmasters really shines is it gives you a chance to practice your speeches and presentations in a positive and encouraging environment. Every member is assigned a mentor to help them on their public speaking journey and you really do improve!
There are over 16,000 clubs worldwide, so there is bound to be one near you or, you can let your fingers do the walking, and dial in as a guest to many of the online clubs worldwide.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anthony Garvey DTM is the Toastmasters International 2023 UK Public Speaking champion. Toastmasters International is a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking,
chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit toastmasters.org