5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before A Public Talk

3 Minute Read | Preparation tools that will help you give your best
By Jeff Lohnes

Today alone, there are hundreds of thousands of people stepping on stages, grabbing a mic and addressing audiences. These audiences range from 20 people to 20,000. Some audience members are looking to be inspired. Others are hoping to learn something new. Many just show up for the free lunch. For the speakers, many are addressing their own company or telling their story at a meetup group for the very first time. For others, it’s their 100th presentation of the year and they’re being paid handsomely for it. The speakers will range from strikingly brilliant to simply boring, and all places in between.

At the Talent Bureau, we work with amazing speakers who deliver brilliant content and keep the audience entertained. But for those who have had less experience on stage, are either new to speaking or looking to improve their skills, I wanted to share some advice to help you on your way. Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself to get off on the right foot:

Who’s in the audience and why are they there?

  • Find out exactly who is in the room
  • Discover what they already know about your subject
  • Think about where they have knowledge gaps
  • Understand their motivation for being there and what they want to gain from the event

What do I want the audience feeling throughout and after my talk?

  • Consider how you want them to connect with your material
  • If you want to leave them feeling inspired, what material do you need to achieve this?
  • If you want them excited about the future, what can you offer to create that excitement?

 

What do I want them saying about my subject matter the day after I present?

  • Think through what you would ideally have audience members saying about you and your talk the next day.
  • If you want them remembering certain strategies or key material, you’ll need to highlight the right stories, facts, and stats to make them memorable and repeatable.

 

What’s the first thing I want the audience doing after my presentation?

  • If you are hoping that your talk will change particular behavior or move the audience to take certain action, ensure that you build your material to deliver on the goal of real action.

 

What tone will work best for this audience?

  • Though a friendly, conversational tone often resonates best, to command attention you sometimes need to adopt a more authoritative tone. Being vulnerable works wonders for drawing people in in many settings. Regardless, we’ve hardly ever looked at an audience and said “a nice sales-y talk is exactly what this audience needs,” so please, don’t do that.

 

Too often, when people are asked to speak they default to narrowly thinking about themselves. They only consider their story, their material, their experience, and that is what so often leads to presentations that don’t connect with audiences. If you change that up using these simple questions, you’ll be in great shape! Once you go through this process you will undoubtedly deliver more solid presentations that people will find great value in. After a few times through, this process will become second nature and only take minutes to complete.