Wednesday, December 12, 2012

8 secret advantages of the seasoned speaker

You may think they're tired of listening to you. You may even find public speaking a routine activity at this point, if you've been speaking and presenting for many years. But the seasoned speaker has 8 secret advantages up her sleeve--bonuses even she may not recognize or think about. Here's your edge over the newcomers on the podium:
  1. Knowing your strengths: If you're quick with a funny one-liner off-the-cuff or able to speak precisely to the time allotted, you'll know that after many turns at the lectern...and you'll run with those strengths, again and again. In turn, that creates a base of confidence for you to work from.
  2. Knowing your weak spots: Some beginning speakers have trouble identifying what they're doing wrong, but seasoned speakers rarely do, if they're being honest. Part of experience means knowing precisely where you fall short--and ideally, having a commitment to targeting those problems.
  3. The last-minute save: Your years of long experience have prepped you well for the Hail Mary pass of public speaking, that request to fill in for another speaker at the last minute. Not only will organizers think of you, but you'll be more ready to say "Sure, no problem" when that call comes in.
  4. Flexibility like Gumby: If you've got experience speaking under all sorts of circumstances, you can manage without your slides or with a different microphone setup or under a tighter time pressure than originally booked. Practice and experience build that flexibility in speakers so you can stretch to accommodate many situations.
  5. Working the room: The more experience you have as a speaker, the more you know how to make the most of your interaction with the audience, whether it's on Twitter or in the actual room. If you're presenting, it's targeted at the decision-maker in the room. If you're persuading a crowd, you do it with gusto that builds a shared excitement. And if there's a crowd afterward, you're generous in speaking with those interested audience members.
  6. A+ in the Q&A: More seasoning usually makes for better answers during the extemporaneous portion of a presentation, both because the seasoned speaker is better prepared and less taken aback by questions, and because she knows their importance in persuading the audience. You're also more likely to cut to the chase and speak your mind--and audiences love that.
  7. Savvy sussing: You don't fall for those unprepared organizers or the panel offer where you'd be one of 15 speakers anymore. Seasoning for speakers also means you're better at evaluating speaking requests to make sure they work for you, and that you can turn down the ill-fitting speech opportunity with no regrets.
  8. A sense of self: This might be the seasoned speaker's strongest advantage: She knows who she is as a speaker, and isn't afraid to share personal details or to roll with odd or unusual situations. As a result, she's better able to connect and appear credible and confident to her listeners.