public speaking

By request… the skills every professional needs

While traveling around the province offering Facilitation Skills for Collaboration to the health care leaders this month, participants asked me to create a post diving into the fundamental skills each person needs to lead a meeting or make a presentation. Here’s my top 7…

1 – Be the most organized person in the room.

Stick to the allotted time. Stay on task. Show people that your session is worth their time. If you’re using an agenda, send it at least a few days ahead for the thinkers who need time to consider their contribution to the meeting. If you’re following a problem solving methodology, know it inside out. 

If you’re showing slides or video or online tools, have a back up paper or flip chart method if the technology doesn’t work.

And always share where the emergency exit and washrooms are located when you begin.

training and development policy2 – Focus on being of service to the people in the room

It’s so easy to get caught up in worrying what people think of us. Yet when we focus on what skills we want them to gain or what problem we need to resolve, we automatically become better facilitators and speakers. It also reminds us to listen closely to others.

3 – Be you.

People can spot a fake. Use your own words as long as they are appropriate to the situation. Just don’t go aiming for fancy words when simple ones work better.

4 – Dress like you too.

This is not the time for new haircuts or outfits. You want to feel as comfortable as possible in your own skin. When facilitating, you are already thinking about enough stuff – timing, participation, the next steps, technology… there’s no need to add concerns like my feet are killing me in these shows or I can’t bend down to help with small group work in this fitted suit.

If the session will be recorded, wear bright colours and reduce patterns. Some clothing patterns distract from what you are saying on video.

5 – Focus before you begin.

Do whatever works to centre yourself before facilitation of a session. Go for a run that day. Meditate. Shake your body out before you arrive. Sing a song. Crank your favourite tunes. Whatever gets you energized and focused on the goals of the session.

6 – Speak clearly.

Your voice projects best when you are facing the group. Avoid speaking to the screen or while you are walking. 

Want people’s attention? Pause. They’ll look up to see why you stopped speaking.

happiness7 – Be kind to yourself

When you’re done facilitating, are you focused on the 95% you did well or stuck ruminating the 5% where you’d like to grow. It’s great to pick something to improve. Being mean to yourself isn’t going to help you grow.

Speak to yourself like you would a good friend. Be kind.

What one area of facilitation or public speaking are you going to work on?

Catherine Doucette MEd, CTDP is a Training and Performance Consultant who delivers customized business communications and leadership programs that produce measurable results. 

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