As many of you know I split my time between Roundpeg and TechPoint. An interesting benefit of splitting my time is getting a chance to listen to a number of speakers on a wide range of topics.

I’ve learned the hard way ( listening to speakers who should never be allowed in front of an audience) being an expert in your field does not make you an expert at public speaking.

I’m not an expert on public speaking, I will leave that to people like Ellen Dunnigan.  I have, however, come up with three tips for speakers, particularly technical ones, to use when speaking to small business owners .

  • Use the KISS model. We’ve all heard the phrase: “Keep it simple, stupid.” Well use it in public speaking. Treat your audience as if they’ve never heard of your product before. Truth be told, most of them haven’t. If they have, there is a good chance they have only a superficial understanding of your product or process. Favor basic words and avoid technical jargon so your audience will be able to understand what you are talking about.
  • Your slides are guidelines. One of my biggest pet peeves is a speaker who reads word for word from their powerpoint slides. If you are going to do that, you might as well post them online, let us review them, and then we can save a trip coming to hear you speak. Your slides are supposed to be guidelines. Use key points and expand on them during your presentation.
  • Hold the microphone away from your mouth. Many speakers have a tendency to hold the microphone too close to their mouth to make their voice sound better or louder.  This will often cause the microphone to pick up every breath you take, and create a bit of distortion.  Hold the microphone at chest level and the audience will still hear you. If they can’t hear you, it’s not you, the microphone isn’t working.
  • And finally, practice. I know I promised only three, but I have seen too many speakers walk up and wing it.   Small business owners are busy, and if they have given you an hour of their time, give them something of value in return; a professional, polished and practiced presentation.

If you follow these simple steps, you might even be invited back a second time.