Improving Your Presentation Skills: Handling Unexpected Speaking Requests

“Could you say a few words on… ?”

Whenever you attend a meeting at work or in the community, you may well hear those words: an unexpected request. This is especially true if you have been improving your presentation skills. So, now what?

Let’s take it back a bit, because we hope one of the skills you have acquired as part of your public speaking training is preparation… in this case, preparation for the unexpected. The request is ‘un’-expected because you can’t know for sure that someone will ask you; the request is expected because you are the type of involved and articulate person you are. So, always be prepared – yes, for every meeting you attend. Still, it isn’t as bad as it sounds!

There are four main areas to work on:

Issues, projects and situations relevant to the listeners.

As a practitioner of your field, you try to stay on top of the latest trends and developments. What you might not do is to make a note of the source of new information. Even though it may be a pain in the neck to take the time to record that source, knowing it will increase your credibility, both in a speech and in your workplace or community.

A short, versatile format on which you can hang almost any content.

Develop a few variations on the following framework: set a positive mood, establish your credibility, go into a few details, and conclude with an action-oriented comment. Once you’ve come up with a few outlines, try them out on your family or staff, then put them to the real test. We are sure you will find them infinitely and quickly adaptable for a truly effective ‘spontaneous’ presentation.

A positive, action-oriented approach – especially in the conclusion.

We always recommend a positive approach to your presentations, even if you are giving bad news – maybe especially if you are. Your conclusion is the most powerful point in your talk to get the audience members to do what you would like them to. Give them a specific action, so they can get on board, as well as perhaps a positive quote, saying or colourful phrase appropriate to the group.

Now, if this sounds like the formula for any good speech, it is. The difference is primarily in the length. Remember the chairperson asked for a ‘few’ words. So, without spending all your spare time preparing, just to go to a meeting, what can you put in your speaking ‘kit bag’ that will make you shine through any number of these impromptu presentations?

Your presentation kit bag should always be overflowing with colourful quotes and phrases you have selected for the various groups you speak to. In fact, one of them may even become your signature poem, line, joke or clever comment. Just remember to credit any previous author, then use all your tools to make a truly creative and memorable speech which hangs neatly on our recommended formats.

If you simply remain conscious of all these elements, you can improve your presentation skills and always be prepared for any unexpected request or question. Stay on your toes, and you’ll be sure to impress!

Tips On Making The Presentation

You have been working really hard to get your name, your brand and your product line out there. Finally you have an opportunity to showcase what you know to a group of your peers. How do you prepare? What should you share? What is the best way to engage your audience and have them remember you?

There are so many questions running through your mind as you get ready.

Will this lead to real customers that buy? Can I hope to make a sale right there? How will I field the questions?

Here are some tips to help you prepare to make the best presentation possible.

1. Look at the audience – From time to time as you speak look different people in the eye. Engage them and make them feel like you are speaking to them personally.

2. Move about as you talk – keep your audience intrigued with some motion. Don’t pace like a tiger but don’t stand just in one spot either. At key moments lean into them. Change your position and get close to them on key points drawing back on others.

3. Use visuals – give them something to look at. But don’t use too many visuals and don’t overload your power-points or other visual material with written words.

4. Use tactile objects – not everyone learns audibly or visually. Some people connect better with what you are saying if you give them something to do. Pass something around the room or get them to take notes. It is even better if you have some kind of activity for them to physically engage in.

5. Be a real person – You have a personality. Show it. Give real life examples. Bring them into your life with real stories.

6. Use laughter – People remember better if they enjoyed themselves. Mostly they remember you and how you made them feel. A positive experience is memorable. Laughter keeps them alert and in a good frame of mind preparing them for your close or compelling action at the end.

7. Relax – You want to be prepared but don’t over prepare. You want to follow some points but don’t read it off word for word. Relax. Know your subject matter and enjoy yourself. If you are having a good time they will join you in having a good time.

8. Watch your use of useless words – the more you speak you will get over this but many first time speakers use words like “uhm”, “ah”, or “like” frequently. Unfortunately the best way to overcome this is just more practice. You will also want to record yourself so you can watch for that pattern. Don’t be overcritical of yourself though. Make a note and deal with it. Knowing that you do it is half the battle.

9. Be unique – let your uniqueness show. If they wanted a Dale Carnegie course that is where they would be. You have their attention right now so use it and be the best you that you can be. Let your creativity etch you firmly into their memory.

10. Control The Space – Tell them at the beginning that you will take questions at the end and then hold them to it. When you are finished your presentation, your way, then ask if anyone has any questions. Try to anticipate possible questions and cover them in the presentation. At the end you will therefore have very few questions. If you do get a question that you were not expecting just smile, take a deep breath and answer briefly then reroute to one of your favourable strong points of the presentation.

Cheap Christmas Presents – Thoughtful Not Tight

Are you tired of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on gifts? There are a lot of ways that you can give gifts that will be much appreciated without blowing your budget! The recipient will really love that you have put thought and effort into the gift rather than just picking something up at the store.

If your friends and family are sweet-tooths, you can try baking some presents. Home-made cookies, shortbread, rum balls, mini Christmas puddings and gingerbread are all delicious. A lot of people don’t have time to make them at home, so they will love receiving some home baked gifts.

Another great idea is to donate your time. Most of us are time poor and donating your time can mean a lot. You can either invite someone you haven’t seen for ages over to have coffee and a chat, or donate time to do something for them. I have donated the time to do gardening, washing cars, babysitting, house-sitting etc. This is really only limited by your imagination and whatever your friends and relatives need. This gift doesn’t cost any money at all, but I like to make small coupons that I give in a card to whoever I am donating my time to. The coupon doesn’t have to be anything fancy, I just make it on my computer (you can download them if you aren’t very creative) All it needs to say is something like “this coupon entitles the bearer to 2 hours of gardening” switch gardening for a specific thing of your choosing, or just say “2 hours of my time”.

Finally, I have an idea that keeps my grandparents happy! Grandparents can be really hard to buy for as they have 60 odd years worth of ‘stuff’ in their homes and don’t really need much. I like to take a photo of myself every year and put it in a nice frame to give to my grandparents. While I am relatively young the photos still show that I am growing up. If you have kids, you could send the photos of your kids to their grandparents, and even get your kids to decorate the frames.