People never put in enough practice on a speech. When I build a new speech, I practice it with a clock and record myself. And then edit the speech. And then deliver the speech again. And do it again. And again. And again.
By the time I'm done, you can take my slides, destroy my computer, put the room in a war zone, and I can still deliver that speech cold and make it at least passably interesting to the audience.
Yes, making a good speech is a ton of work. I don't do it often, and when I do I try to make sure I can give that speech multiple times to amortize some of the work.
I once gave a presentation 4 times in a row (venue was large with 4 rotating groups) and, man, the 4th time I gave it I was so freaking into it, it was so freaking good. You really noticed that it got better at the second, third, and fourth time. My talk actually got the highest rating of all presentations that day by a LARGE margin.
I think most people grok it for others' presentations; it just appeals to both vanity and laziness to think "I can wing it."
Some people are just good at ad lib. What is charisma without improvisation?
> Some people are just good at ad lib. What is charisma without improvisation?
Indeed, some people are good at ad lib, and can give a good talk without practice; but I think that it is almost always some combination of vanity and laziness to think that one can give a better talk without practice than with it.
In my city, there are dozens of chapters that vary in quality and expertise. One chapter is really good for people who are shy. Another is for people who are quite advanced and are trying to get on the level of event speaker.
Over a few years, my speech writing and delivery improved to the point where I got compliments during public events. And a friend of mine from the club got to the point where he frequently gets asked to be an MC at friends/family events.
Plus generally speaking, I have found the people who go to be friendly.
And if you are really interested you can go much further in Toastmasters.
"Have a point! It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!"
In general, I find most technical and scientific talks are the person gushing about whatever they think is cool, sometimes rushing from topic to topic, and as an audience member, you're like, what is going on, and why is this relevant?
All this knowledge in this article is really good. But I think most people kid themselves about how much they can cover, and what is interesting to them might not be interesting to their audience. Although if you know what the takeaways are, you should be able to know that those are relevant for that audience. I love the part about having one thing you're focusing on. It's obvious, until you try to write something, and have a million good sounding ideas.
I realised that I was much more stressed when I had to present my own work/research than let say, a class, or somebody else's work. It wasn't simply talking in public that affected me, but also the fear of being judged and criticised.
Eventually, I got more experience (I was professor for a while) and it became like second nature. It is really just a matter of practice.
That being said, I'm certainly not a great orator. For instance, I've always disliked giving longer lectures where you need somehow to keep the audience awake. In that context, because I can't rely on my eloquence, I try to engage the audience with some questions, exercises, and alternate the unavoidable boring parts with more interesting parts.
Another thing that I noticed when watching speakers on youtube, is that they often do the exact same speech hundreds of time! When you watch several videos of them, you realize that they tend to repeat the exact same sentences from one speech to the next, even when they answer questions. No wonder they are good speakers.
I've looked up presentation / lectures by people I've personally attended, though at different times and locations. The similarity will come down to timing and intonation.
It's far easier to appear polished when what you're delivering is a frequently-repeated performance, than when doing a one-off. The frequent advice and/or pressure for creativity and originality all the time and under all circumstances is also actively harmful. Far better to get the basic framework right, perfect the delivery, and then tweak or adjust slightly as you go, than to try to randomly toss out something wholly novel at one go.
The fact that practice (see: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20771763) is a major component also makes drastic changes expensive, and hence, not generally a good idea.
It completely changed the way I make presentations, and my evaluations skyrocketed after making the changes.
Because that format is so beyond dead to me.
IMHO, perhaps the most important thing is to know your subject inside and out, upside and down. Given that, you can speak freely and ad-lib colorful comments to fill time if needed. You are also a much better Q&A responder.
The soft skills count for a lot, too. But I think super-deep knowledge is a must-have.
- DON'T 'make-stuff-up'
If you get a tricky question about something you don't know, just say you don't know - you will screw up and get caught out when you get it wrong. No one knows everything.
- DO only speak on subjects that you have a passion about
I believe that this is very important, and the difference between a good talk, a bad talk, and a transforming talk.