10 Things You Can Do To Be a Brilliant Orator
If you are going to give a talk, you might as well be a brilliant orator, a phrase that has been used to describe Julius Caesar, Barack Obama, and many in between. Here are 10 things you can do to improve your oratory performance:
- Have an interesting message to convey. It sounds simple, but, if it was that easy, why doesn’t everyone do it?
- Have a conversation with your audience. Orating does not mean lecturing or preaching. It means conveying a message to people. Since each person took the trouble to be there to hear you, talk to him or her.
- Do not read your slides or notes. If you do, I guarantee someone (if not many) will think, “I can read that myself so why am I listening to this person?”
- Don’t say “umm”. Pause instead. Or breathe. (Well, always breathe.)
- Look friendly and approachable. You know how people like babies and cute animals? You want people there to like you because they will get more out of your presentation.
- Use self-deprecating humor, which will never offend people. Surely there is something funny you can say about yourself!
- Tell a story to illustrate to illustrate your point. Stories tend to be memorable and thus a good reminder of your message. They are also fun to tell and if you are having fun your listeners are more likely to as well.
- If someone asks a question, don’t be nervous because you are the expert. Worst case , if you don’t know how to answer the question, answer a different question that you do know the answer to that is at least related.
- Have a plant in the audience to ask a question that you want to answer. This way you will look good and you avoid having to wonder why no one asked a question. Usually after the first question you will get others (see #8).
- Tape a practice session and actually watch or listen to it. It is very painful to do! A few years ago I gave a talk that was streamed on the internet and it took me 3 months before I could watch it, but it was pretty good except I said “umm” too much (see #4).