Lesson 10 – Equipment
And they are just the obvious things people ask me about public speaking, what about the ones you haven’t even thought of?
There are 3 elements to equipment when it comes to public speaking.;
Let’s explore each one.
People often ask me about what equipment they need and ask if they should use props and PowerPoint and yet they don’t really consider what their outfit is saying. For instance, here’s a few things I’ve learnt;
ACTION; If you think back to lesson 1 when we asked what was your purpose for speaking, consider how your outfit can help reinforce your message?
2. The equipment that will enables your audience to get maximum benefit
You’ve probably heard that PowerPoint is not there for you but for your audience but what else enables your audience to get maximum benefit from what you are saying and wishing them to learn?
In a later lesson we will look at what audiences hate and love however for now we need to consider how different us humans can be and how it impacts on our ability to learn and listen.
ACTION; In its simplest format consider this with every speaking engagement;
How do my audience like to learn?
Your audience will be made up of people that like to learn in 4 ways – visual, auditory, reading/writing or kinaesthetic. When you consider this, you can see the benefit that PowerPoint can have. However, for example someone like myself struggles to listen to what is being said when there are a lot of words on the screen. While a visual learner may struggle with a powerpoint that only has pictures or doesn’t exist at all.
How do my audiences like to think?
Secondly humans tend to fit into one of two categories – convergent thinkers or divergent thinkers.
Convergent – Just get to the point. What’s the solution. What are we going to do!
Divergent – What ideas do you have? What could we do? What actions could we take?
Put these styles into play and add that some people struggle to hear if the acoustics are bad or it’s a large room and then you can see that sometimes PowerPoint is necessary. (It is also something that some hosts like to have in action to showcase the event they’ve hosted to enable them to promote future events. A blank screen doesn’t help, while a power phrase and a great image does and could give you some evergreen marketing too!)
Taking the above into account here are some do’s and don’ts of PowerPoint;
There are some examples of my PowerPoint on my LinkedIn and Facebook business Profile. Both of which were requested by the host and audiences. (Probably says something right?)
So after PowerPoint what other props are there?
Whiteboard’s are good to make the session interactive. You will need to listen acutely for what people are shouting out behind, and you may consider asking someone to get involved with helping you write on the board. Either way a whiteboard can help your audience feel like they are going to be listened to. A word of caution, don’t just ask a question that expects the audience to do all the work and find all of the answers. It’s a bit like going to see your favourite singer only for them to hold the mike listening to the audience sing it instead of them, you find yourself thinking “I didn’t pay to hear 50,000 strangers sing this, I paid to hear you sing it!”
White boards’ also rely on you being able to spell, so if you worry about spelling things wrong, writing at a slant or misquoting someone, practice or reconsider.
Pen and paper for your audience can help them take notes. Not everyone turns up prepared. You may wish to get them sharing what they’ve written down and discussed in their pairs.
Post it notes can be useful for getting everyone involved. If you’ve copied a ice breaker or game off of the internet be cautious in corporate environments, where they will have been force fed games like this before and it could cause them to prejudge what you are going to do, based on past experiences.
Props. I’ve seen props used brilliantly and to distraction. A great prop I’ve seen in action was when a presenter actually started removing their make up with their own products and showed how quick and easy it is to look gorgeous naturally – I was sold! Another great example is the business owner that always uses a skull and it is becoming It’s own personality as the speaker alters its image depending on what they wish to speak about or highlight. Their audience is laughing and excited to hear what they have to say before they’ve even started! On the other hand I’ve seen people stand up and sing a song with a guitar and the audience has not caught every word they’ve said so not actually understood the relevance of the guitar to their business or what they wanted people to do or know.
Props should enliven the audience. Reinforce your message. Props enable you to make visual, subjects that are hard to grasp or feel to far removed from your audience. In this way they are powerful.
ACTION; Consider what props could you use?
Check out some of the powerful examples that famous speakers have used over the years to highlight world poverty, malaria or the power of our brain’s little grey matter. All props that powerfully share the story before the words or body do anything!
On the other side of props I’ve seen props used in a way that scared half the audience to death. While it was a clever trick that massively reinforced the speakers message, because of it’s ambiguity for many of the audience it just looked like someone was getting shot with an arrow at point blank range! Be sure that you know your audience will interpret the prop in the same way as you do.
Ideally keep your props hidden so that again you can bring them out with aplomb and add gravitas to their use.
Phones – everyone has one and we are in theory supposed to put them away before the speaker starts speaking to show respect. What if you challenged this and said “You are welcome to film my content and share with your friends on line”? If this is something you want to do and you are using PowerPoint consider having your social media at the bottom of each page, and not just on the first page and last. If you only add your social media tags to the first and last page people will forget to get involved because they can’t remember your name therefore you are restricting them from engaging with you. Clarify the boundaries that you wish your audience to bide by. It could be your keynote is worth £25,000 and in which case you may not be keen to see it sprawled across the internet.
3.The aids you need to ensure you can deliver the best performance possible.
In our determination to do our best for our audiences we can put ourselves to the bottom of the list. Simple things can help you perform brilliantly. As you see in the lesson that looks at the fear of public speaking it is sometimes a visual reminder that enables us to break the habit of fearing public speaking, so there is nothing wrong with ensuring you have your “lucky bracelet” with you on stage. (think like the footballer and their lucky socks!”
It is also important that if you thought of your audience when you considered your outfit you considered how comfortable you feel in it. (I’ve had occasions where I’ve been on a wooden old stage and risked getting my heels stuck in a wooden rutt! And so had to adjust how much I’ve moved around the stage.)
Make sure you can move freely in your outfit, feel comfortable and are going to be up to standing around answering questions afterwards too. You don’t want to risking looking bored on in pain because you’ve chosen the wrong shoes.
Consider how tight your outfit is and whether it impacts on your breathing too. (Remember your breathing can massively impact on your performance.)
Notes – there is no rule against notes however if it is just a 60 seconds elevator pitch ask yourself what does it say about you that you can’t think of something to say for less than 60 seconds without the need for an aid? Does it suggest you know your subject or lack knowledge? In my experience the shorter the session only have a piece of paper in your hand if you are;
For someone that suffers from brain fog thanks to my medications and Lupus sometimes if I have had a long journey and I’m going to be engaging with an audience for a whole day I will have notes. Not a copy of everything I could cover on the day, however key points that I feel are essential to get across powerfully to my audience.
WORTH NOTING; I used to stress that I hadn’t read things in order, or that I’d not covered everything I’d wanted to. The point is that your audience gets maximum benefit, and if you have delivered on all of the lessons in this course, that will happen, even if you go slightly off script. If anything off script means you were listening to your audience and working on a deeper level to the needs of that individual audience. That is the powerful stuff!
Some equipment is subtle other’s not so much. Let me give you the two extremes with clients who feared public speaking;
The microphone – While the microphone is there to enable everyone to hear you, I’ve seen a client who was petrified of public speaking pretend the microphone was a normal phone. Why? Because as we discovered in their coaching session they hated the way people were looking at them, and worried about what they thought of them (More of this in Fight the fear – the book and in the lesson on the fear of public speaking) seeing the microphone as part of their equipment and not the audiences meant they could pretend it was a phone. This client had to host a lot of online conference calls, usually to 300+ people and that was fine because they felt “hidden”. The phone (along with the coaching session on what they wanted to feel, act like and notice) enabled them to change the purpose of the phone to make it useful to them.
WORTH NOTING; Not all microphones are equal. I’ve been on stage with a microphone so light I’ve not noticed it and on other occasions I’ve needed to prop my arm up it’s so heavy. If possible always check out the equipment that is on offer and don’t feel pressurised into using if you feel you can deliver without over complicating things. Although be aware that the AV (Audio and Visual) team will know the set up, room and accoustics probably better than you, so it’s worth taking into account their views.
What equipment would you like to encorpirate into your speaking engagements?
What equipment do use that you feel distracts from the power of what you have to say?
Have you factored into your speaking engagement the need to appreciate the different ways people like to learn and think?
How will you ensure you remember to factor in equipment into your future speaking engagements to ensure you are memorable to your audiences in a powerful way.
ACTION; Stand in front of a mirror with your prop, white board or notes. Notice how you stand. Does it impact on your performance? Does it make you more relaxed? Are you stressing about being on the right page of your notes or of the slide show? How will you avoid that?