Norrie Jackson, JFP Partner on PUBLIC SPEAKING
For anyone in business, I would recommend developing their business skills as a public speaker – by doing so it helps market your company and it helps assemble, consolidate and marinate your thoughts on everything involved in your business.
Several years ago, I went to hear an American named Darren LaCroix, who was in London talking about public speaking – in 2001, he had won the prestigious National Speakers Association International Competition.
One of the stories he told struck a chord – he said that when he was starting off in public speaking, one evening after work he drove from his home in New York for about two hours to an event, where he spoke for ten minutes and drove another two hours back to New York – hence his mantra “Never Turn Down Stage Time” - if you want to improve your public speaking, you have to grab every opportunity.
Five thoughts for you:
1. Preparation - when you hear a good speech – you may think he or she is just a natural speaker - don’t be fooled, they have probably spent many hours – even years - perfecting their performance.
As Mark Twain once allegedly quipped – “It takes me two weeks to write a good speech but three weeks to write an impromptu one!” – and one of Winston Churchill’s colleagues once asked him what he was doing “Writing an impromptu speech” came the reply.
2. Introductions - John Rutherford, arguably Scotland’s greatest stand-off recalls the time, he had been playing rugby in New Zealand and on his return to the UK, he was asked to speak at a business lunch. Not knowing what he should be speaking about, he turned to Bill McLaren, the peerless Rugby Commentator, who said – “Just prepare your first line – and everything will flow from there”.
So, for a week or so, John practiced the line “I have just come back from New Zealand, where rugby is more important than religion”. The day of the business lunch arrived, and John was prepared – and the Master of Ceremonies said, “And our next speaker is John Rutherford, who has just come back from New Zealand, where Rugby is more important than religion!”
Always check with the person, who is going to introduce you.
3.TED / Learning from Others
TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.
There are now around 3,000 TED videos available on their website – and what better way of learning how to be a good public speaker by viewing some of the talks - and Chris Anderson, owner of TED, is a book well worth reading.
4. Always Leave Them Wanting More
TED talks are 18 minutes or less – the organisers have worked out that anything longer does not have the full impact.
One of my friends is Professor David Purdie, whose seriously amusing after-dinner speeches are much in demand. His public speaking mantra is “Always Leave Them Wanting More” – and I suggest taking his advice will serve you well
5. Just get out there and “Strut Your Stuff”
One of the networking groups, I used to attend was TWIS (Third Wednesday in Slough), when around 80 people congregated monthly. The Chairman was a colourful and accomplished public speaker, named Roger Bibby. For each event, the sponsoring firm had two minutes to tell everyone about their firm. Having listened to some rather mediocre performances, Roger resorted to encouraging speakers by saying “Just get out there and “Strut Your Stuff” – very good advice.