Saturday, November 14, 2009

Speaking Skills: Afterward

Key 6: Afterward

Whew! You’ve done it! You planned, practiced, and performed. Now you’re finished with the presentation! Well, not so fast. A final key to better presentations comes after you have done the hard part. Some careful attention at this stage can help you hone your skills!

  • Graciously accept compliments and questions. People will want to talk to you afterward. Many will compliment you. A polite “Thank you so much!” is an appropriate response. No need to apologize if anything went wrong--it just draws attention to it. Be gracious in accepting compliments. Answer any questions thoughtfully and honestly. If your speech was brief, many people will want to know more! If it was very good (and of course it was!), they may want you to give it again and invite you to speak elsewhere. If you make presentations to promote your business, be prepared with follow-up material.
  • Ask for feedback, and learn from it. This is critically important. Be willing to learn from comments given by your audience. Sometimes they will be nice suggestions, sometimes people are rude. In any case, be gracious accepting suggestions. Write them down if you need to. Remember them as you move forward and hone your skills. If possibly, commission someone to evaluate you and give you tips for improvement. An evaluator can tell you if you were hard to hear, talked too fast, made appropriate eye contact, dealt with unexpected issues well, and connected with the audience.
  • Mine your content for blog entries, articles, podcasts, and more. If you have developed a presentation, why stop there? Build your professional presence by turning that speech into a series of blog entries (like this series), articles for publication, podcasts, and so on. You might choose to expand your presentation and offer it as a paid workshop, tele-class, or a conference presentation. If you get a lot of related material, turn your content into a book, e-book, learning CD or MP3, and so on.
  • Investigate Toastmasters. Almost everything I’ve learned about public speaking has come from Toastmasters International. If you want a positive, supportive learning environment, look for a local club by typing in your ZIP code at the TI web site. You will learn by doing, with helpful comments along the way.