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Last updated on 3/30/22

The principles of public speaking


The success of a communication on a project is based on the ability to propose  a great written document as well as your ability to convince with a oral presentation. The key issue is that your interlocutors should feel that they will miss something, if they do not listen to you.

Also, you have to show that you believe in your project, in what you say. Emotions are seen, understood and shared. Therefore, it is necessary to adapt your speech according to the people in front of you (for example, an investor, a banker, a potential partner ...) and above all keep a visual contact. We will now go together, though recommendations for all of this.


Principles in communication 

First of all, in your presentation in public, it is necessary to master what comes out of your verbal communication, that is to say of the voice, as well as the non-verbal, that is to say, your body language, because your gestures, your attitude and your voice, will significantly impact your audience during your presentation.


Verbal communication 

In verbal communication, your voice transmits many messages, through your flow, your times of silence or your intonation. So do not talk too fast and don’t hesitate to take breaks, at the right time, to encourage the attention of your audience, and give them concentration time to record your messages. Also try to have short sentences, do not express too many concepts at a time.


Non verbal communication 

Non-verbal communication through your body language, will also impact your audience, and its receptiveness to your messages. So you will express your project, through your posture, your look, your smile and your expression. One of the practices to improve yourself in non-verbal communication is to speak in front of a mirror, or even better, to record yourself in video to discover the way you look.

Therefore, note the points that appear positive in your expression, and which ones need improvement; and repeat it several times.

  • You should smile sincerely, because this can be seen and understood.

  • Show your empathy, your desire to share and convince your audience of your enthusiasm, and clairvoyance on your project.

  • Master the space around you.

  • Do not hesitate to use your hands, and to move a minimum to show an image of dynamism. 

Finally, look at your audience, and consider the reactions to your comments. If you feel that your audience understood your message, do not insist on repeating it, but go on to the next point.


Before your speech

You must prepare your speeches. How ? Here is my recommandation. 


Prepare yourself 

Before meeting your audience, you have to organize what you are going to tell them, and how you will get your messages across. You should consider the following questions :

  • Who will be present? Will they be similar or will they be very diverse people?

  • What are my audience's expectations?

  • Why do they have these expectations?

  • How will I get their attention, and motivate them to listen to what I have to say?

  • What decisions should they make after my intervention?


And more generally, in which way will my audience will find meaning to listen to me and remember what I am going to say? So you should ask these questions in order to work, on impacting your audience.


Prepare your documents 

You can then prepare your presentation document, based on your business plan, but include only the most important and relevant ideas and facts to share.

 You can also prepare some notes, in which you will script your presentation in terms of speech progress, or prepare more personal elements, such as an anecdote, or some humoristic story to address your audience.

 For example, during a very austere conference, a famous professor in management control, had to introduce the topic of organizational performance to more than 200  financial directors. So he did not start his presentation with a technical aspect, but he mentioned this anecdote as, when he was a student, the first grade he got on the subject he is an expert now, was a very bad mark. This to illustrate, that there is nothing obvious on this topic.  After the audience laughed and smiled, the professor was able to begin his presentation, in front of an interested audience.

 On the other hand, do not abuse with notes to read during the presentation. You should not give the impression that you are reading a document, or that you are lost without your notes.

For these notes, we advise you not to write sentences but rather to use keywords, or even a diagram that unrolls your presentation, so that you keep in mind the thread, and the sequence of your different parts. Keep a toned rythm to move from one keyword to another.


Prepare materials 

Test your presentation first on a computer, and make sure that there are no format or compatibility issues. If your presentation is on the web, also plan a version on a USB key. At least one presentation out of four begins with problems of hardware, files, compatibilities, ... .. Beyond the fact that your audience is waiting impatiently, this can discredit the beginning of your intervention.


How to impact on your audience ?

I propose now to synthesize, some key points for you to have in mind to impact your audience :

  •  You need to have a dynamic and impactful attitude, which enthuses your audience - so you have to be short, captivating, interesting.

  • Respect the time allotted to you, and speak at the same flow throughout the presentation

  • Be concise - you often have little time, so every word counts.

  • Take small breaks in your speech, and play with a well-placed humor when necessary

  • Prepare yourself thoroughly, constructing your presentation, and watching you when speaking.

  • For your body position, be with opened arms, and not closed one. Have your head straight, and look at the whole audience. You will create a link with them.

  • Show that you are enthusiastic about being among them, and making your presentation.

  • Stay tuned to your audience's goals, why did they come? What do they expect from you?

  • Do not hesitate to use formulas, quotations, to challenge or bounce attention.

  • If you are several people leading the project, make sure that everyone speaks but let you best speaker to be the first to present the project

  • Support your presentation, with facts, sources, quantified datas.

  • Create surprise, with your audience to maintain his attention, and this way you show your creativity

  • At the end of the presentation, summarize the main lines of the project, for your audience to be able to reframe the different stakes of your presentation and your arguments. 

For example :

An entrepreneur, in front of a bankers audience, began his speech by reminding them a Benjamin Franklin's phrase, saying "You think money has no value, just try to borrow some". With this humouristic citation, the entrepreneur has succeeded to concentrate the attention of his audience.


After the presentation 

I would like to draw your attention, on the rigor to manifest on the exchanges with your audience, after your presentation:

  •  Do not refuse a question that you do not find interesting or off-topic. It is necessary to remain courteous and by refusing,  you can show this way that you are lacking of concentration on the potential interest of a question

  • Avoid underestimating the relevance of an interrogation. This can hide a crucial point that in fact you have not identified.

  • Avoid saying that your activity is so technical that it is difficult to explain, because otherwise your interlocutors might think that you do not really master it, as you are not able to explain it

  • Avoid to constantly demonstrate that the project is exceptional. One might think that your ambition makes you blind to the potential risks


For an excellent oral presentation, here also the 4 C rule applies: Be clear, concise, consistent, complete. ‌And add passion, by manifesting enthusiasm, smile, and a great will.


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