What makes professional speakers professional?
I have been a professional speaker who has worked with more than 1000 speakers to develop their style, delivery and impact. Everyone has something to learn. Below are some of the inner secrets to becoming a more professional INSET deliverer that most people don’t really know.
1. Inner dialogue
Be aware of the difference between inner and outward dialogue. Most of you will have developed a good speaking style; however, when it comes to presenting to a room full of teachers, hearts can race as the adrenaline kicks in.
The focus tends to switch from audience and what you want them to think, feel and do, to you – essentially, survival mode. Without realising it you can end up speaking faster, losing your place and becoming unsure where prompts and resources are. Even changing a cable seems to take an age.
At this time, and usually unconsciously, inner dialogue begins fighting with outer dialogue for air space. What the audience wants and needs is resounding clarity, what they get is “this usually works…. wait a minute…. if I can just find…. I’m sure it’s here somewhere….. hang on I’ve missed something…. it’ll come back to me in a minute.” You’ve heard it all before. It sounds poor and it is poor – internal dialogue is winning the battle.
Sadly, once it’s reared its head, you develop ultra-awareness of this dialogue and consequently lose confidence and coherence.
The trick is to recognise it for what it is and move on. The audience will not know if you have missed a chunk, no matter how important you think it to be. Everybody has had technology misbehave. Remember it’s the external they want to hear. You must override your need to externalise internal dialogue.
2. Building audience rapport
There are so many ways to do this using great tricks, props, jokes, games, greetings, tune-ins, and activities. What is crucial is that you chose methods that suit you, your style and that you have practiced.
It’s the beginning of the session and you are unlikely to be in flow. Pick something that draws people in and has a super high percentage chance of working for you. Originality is important.
What most trainers fail to recognise early in their careers is that rapport is usually built before the presentation begins. Greet the audience on arrival. Find out what it is they need to get out of the day. Ask about their issues. Ask them about what their idea of what makes a great INSET day. Use all this material to your advantage in the early stages. Refer to them by name. Be warm even if you don’t know them.
The best trainers build rapport before the presentation starts. They get strong buy-in. This is especially important for people delivering to a known audience. Don’t make presumptions, as they could come back to bite come back to bite.
3. Killer diagrams
One killer diagram is worth at least 1000 spoken words. With two you can launch a revolution. Teaching is a very developed profession and most things have been seen. Many people will think they are already doing what you are advocating (and they probably are just not as well as they could be hence the need for development).
For these reasons evidence and concepts are often best presented visually. Work on what your diagram can be. Once you have it try it out with a few people and improve it. Again originality and association are key.
4. The participation pause
Don’t you just love it when you ask your first question and the room falls silent?
I’d expect this has probably happened to all of us, if not, you’re lucky!
Audience participation has to be nurtured. Early greetings, know names, asking questions to specific audience members, pre-planned responses, and 30 second think times all can help. Have them all up your sleeve, just in case.
When these are not working you might have to wait. And 1 silent minute at the front feels like and extraordinary long time, but it’s worth it.
My colleague, Professor Barry Hymer reminds the audience that he is a trained psychologist and councillor and can manage 40 minutes. It always garners a laugh and crucially reminds the audience that this is a two way session.
5. Sticking to what works.
The technique of saying what you’re planning to say and then reminding your audience of what you have just said is great for public speaking. It can get a little formulaic in the training arena where expectations are generally higher.
The first and last things you say will be what are remembered – primary and recency effects. If you open or close with an apology, excuse, fumble or any form of confusion it will be remembered and most likely end up on the evaluation form.
The rest of your presentation should be well planned. Even the jokes. If you want applause plan for that. The triple ender is one sure fire way and very versatile.
6. Coming off script
A brilliant idea… as long as the majority of the audience are with you.
All too often I have observed one or two members of the audience getting into highly specific or off subject lines of questions. When the trainer follows, the silent majority get easily bored and distracted.
The great Barry Hymer has several put downs that can be developed. In response to the those who are challenging him in what he is saying (not everyone is going to agree with you) he simply says, “Is there anything I could say to you that could change your mind in the way you are thinking?” The usual response is “No.” “Very well should we agree to disagree?” and moves swiftly on.
For others the specificity they require is above the average attention span of the audience. Simply state that their point is very specific and that you are happy to catch them at the break or lunch to talk about their context. And swiftly move on.
Whatever the case always make sure you do go back to them, as they are for sure going to be the source of adverse feedback and potential dissention.
The main and possibly only force in the room is energy. This will wax and wain throughout a day and your job is to manage it. Both yours and your audiences’ energy levels.
Dull voice begets weariness. Over-excitement lifts but creates higher expectations. Plan the day, your tone changes, movement and activities with bounce in mind.
If you are already brilliant and want more work, talk to the INSET team at Osiris.
If you are planning an IN service day and want to get it right for your school or team we have specialists in every area.
Osiris Educational is the UK’s leading independent training provider for teachers.We work at the forefront of innovation in education providing pioneering, challenging and effective training solutions in teaching. We use the best and most renowned trainers to help teachers improve their ways of thinking and approaches to teaching.
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