Category: Presentation Skills
Congratulations! You’ve come a long way through the phases of learning to speak in public. We’re excited to share our idea of a “formula” with you. We’ve already reviewed all of the terms that make up the formula. Now it’s time to put all the pieces together in a way that will make it easier for you to remember them all and continue to master them over time.
Here goes. The “formula” for successful, confident public speaking is:
Being in Control of Your Reason for Speaking
The Ability to push through Comfort Zones
A Passionate Subject
Understanding Your Audience
Great Writing Skills
Great Presentation Skills
Lots of Live Practice
It’s fairly simple. Well, maybe it’s not that simple because there are ten items on that list and a lot of aspects to some of them. But it is pretty straightforward. It’s addition, not trigonometry! Each time you add or strengthen a step, you strengthen the outcome.
Remember what we discussed when we first brought up the concept of a public speaking formula way back in some earlier articles? Whenever something is omitted from the formula, the outcome falls that much shorter than it would if that item was done successfully. It’s really simple math.
In fact, we can even assign numerical values to illustrate this.
Let’s imagine someone totally masters each step. Her “scores” on a scale of 1-10 would be:
Clear goals (10) + intrinsic motivations (10) + being in control of your reason for speaking (10) + the ability to fight through comfort zones (10) + a passionate subject (10) + understanding your audience (10) + great writing skills (10) + great presentation skills (10) + strong preparation (10) + lots of live practice (10)
Our speaker’s total “score” would be 100. That’s a perfect score. And because she did everything so well, her overall presentation skills and the impact of her presentation would be outstanding.
Now, let’s imagine someone with scores like this:
Clear goals (5) + intrinsic motivations (5) + being in control of your reason for speaking (2) + the ability to fight through comfort zones (9) + a passionate subject (8) + understanding your audience (4) + great writing skills (6) + great presentation skills (5) + strong preparation (3) + lots of live practice (5)
This score would be 52, which happens to represent 52% of the total amount that could have been achieved. In school, we’re told that anything less than about 70% is “failure”, so 52% doesn’t sound very good using that logic.
52% is also about “half”. If we only thought we had a 52% chance of giving a successful presentation, that wouldn’t make us feel very comfortable. So we should all shoot for a better “score” than that.
But there’s also another way to look at this list. Since this presenter had decent scores for clear goals, intrinsic motivations, writing skills, presentation skills, and practice time, they might do a decent job. Their lowest score, being in control of the reason for presenting in the first place, might or might not actually impact their score depending on the situation.
For example, maybe this speaker really didn’t think they had a choice whether to give the presentation or not, so they just got over that issue and did it anyway. Perhaps the speech was for work or school. The audience might never know the speaker didn’t originally want to give the speech, and their otherwise decent to high scores would probably result in a solid outcome.
Another speaker with the same scores might find that the lack of controlling the reason for speaking in the first place bothered them enough that the audience picked up on their unwillingness to give the presentation even though they had decent skills otherwise.
The safest bet is to try to cover all the angles. Here’s the crazy thing: Most people don’t.
Most people have limited or no experience giving a presentation. They have limited understanding of the audience, and many haven’t written a presentation before. Most people are totally unprepared and don’t really change that by “game day”.
The average person only really focuses on what to say during their presentation, they stress about whether to give it (which could be considered pushing themselves through comfort zones), and they might practice their speech in the mirror.
Let’s give the average person a 6 for writing, an 8 for getting through their comfort zones, a 3 for practicing in the mirror, and 15 points for some skill in other areas combined.
This means the average presenter probably scores around a 32 on this scale before getting up in front of an audience. As we’ve said elsewhere, it’s NO WONDER people get stressed out about giving a presentation if they aren’t prepared! Going into something 32% prepared when you’d prefer to be 100% prepared sounds scary to us, too.
Where will you end up? We’re not saying you need to hit a 100, nor that you even need to give a flawless presentation every time. For most of us, the goal is to give an effective presentation. If you can do well in every area, let’s say a score of 6 or higher, you’ll be way ahead of the average person and your overall presentation has a very good chance of being effective.
We also want to stress that the choice is yours about what to work on, how long to work on it for, how far you want to go with each area, and therefore how good your final presentation needs to be and will be. As we explained at length earlier, we think having a sense of self motivation and self control is very important, especially when it comes to public speaking. So we’re not going to try and force you to do anything.
Do what you feel is necessary now that you came this far. Don’t forget that you already learned a ton just by getting here!
Most of all, prepare yourself to the point where you feel very ready to give your next presentation. It will not only be more effective, but it will be much more enjoyable to present to an audience when you strengthened areas and didn’t leave anything out.
Think about it. If you have clear goals, strong intrinsic motivation for wanting to give your presentation, if you’re in control if why you are there and what you’re going to say, you’ll march to the front of the room with confidence. If you have a subject you feel passionate about, if you understand what your audience wants and needs, and if you have a very well written presentation, you’ll be excited to begin. If you have great preparation skills, if you’ve prepared well, and if you’ve practiced in front of a live audience, you’ll knock ‘em dead.
We’d like to conclude with three final recommendations pertaining to this formula.
First, track your progress in each area. Keep a running log of each component you work on and how well you feel you are doing with it. As your efforts add up, so will your results. You can even give yourself a running score if you like. Be honest. Ask yourself what score you deserve for each area. Use this chart if you like:
9-10: Pro level
7-8: Strong skills
5-6: Good skills
3-4: Some skills
1-2: Minimal skills
0: No skill yet
Next, come back to Pspeak. Often. Revisit your custom learning path. Re-read things to keep them fresh. We all forget things over time. You put in a lot of hard work already, so don’t let it fade. Update yourself periodically on the content, especially the areas in which you needed the most work.
Finally, and above all, keep practicing and giving actual presentations as often as you can! Your skills will not only stay sharp, they’ll improve. You will be one of the rare people with a really high “score”, someone who is truly capable of getting up in front of virtually any group of people with skill and confidence. Think of the possibilities!
With that, we recommend one last stop before you head to the practice area. Check out our “Time to Practice” module for some quick info that will prepare you for the final step before you head into your next live presentation!