Talking to people

Talking to people
At some stage in our lives, inevitably, we have to stand up and talk to a group of people. As you know, I volunteer to give talks on subjects like ‘Water Aid’, ‘John, Dementia and Me’, ‘Flirting with Spanish’ ‘A close look at unseen poetry’ and ‘The View from Downunder’. I do these talks, not because I think I’m the best thing since sliced bread, but because I’m scared my mind is going to degenerate as I get older. If you don’t use it, you lose it eh? So I figure that if I have to stand in front of some people and keep track of what I’m saying and what is happening for half an hour, the chance is that I haven’t ‘lost it’ – well not yet, anyway.
Recently I did a course – if you have a spare moment, you might like to look at a website called FutureLearn for here you can take FREE courses – some of which are very good. The one I did recently was called ‘Talk the talk’. It gave advice on how to give a presentation so that your audience stays in the room. We were supposed to download a demonstration of what we were going to say – I only managed the first bit of this – but you had the opportunity to have a huge number of people look at your presentation and give you advice. There were a number of suggestions that were given by the Open University, which gave the course and the ideas I found most useful (and probably pertinent) are found in this series of questions:
Why are you giving the talk: to inform, persuade, motivate or entertain? (I like to think all four)
Who will be listening? How much will they already know and what would benefit them? (I made a bad mistake once, when I prepared a light (hopefully) entertaining talk only to find a member of a university had come to find out as much as she could about the subject!)
Will you use Powerpoint or some other technology? ( I’ve always used Powerpoint when I can – people have pictures to look at instead of me, however, lately I’ve been to places that don’t have the technology and had have to do without. I found it was much easier to prepare for. Now I use Powerpoint, not as something to hide behind but to illustrate a few strong points if I can.)
What are you going to say, how are you going to shape your talk – what will it begin with what will be the bulk of what you say, how will you connect your points and how will you end the talk? What examples will you give to illustrate your points? (Here’s the rub – I’ve realized that my talks up to now had not been thought through…)
How are you going to keep calm before and during the talk? How are you going to make sure your talk is within the time limit given? (I try to think ‘slow down’ all the time – I tend to gabble and at the moment I keep checking my watch which is not a good thing, but it’s the only thing that seems to work as yet.)
How will you evaluate your talk? Can you get someone to say what they think of your talk afterwards? (I’ve now got a sheet that I give out, asking people to write down what they liked and what could be done to improve my talk. One brave lady told me I shouldn’t use so many sheets – so now I try to talk more directly to the audience.)
I hope you find this information as useful as I did and before you think I’m a bit of a ‘know-all’ and think I give perfect speeches – there’s always something that goes wrong. At one stage I bought a dress to wear and was determined to wear it, only to find that it really was too short for my old legs, so I had to hide behind a table so that the audience was not put off completely!
Good luck with your speeches!
Oh, and, of course, if you are brave enough and think you would like me to give a talk to your group sometime – just contact me!


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One Response to “Talking to people”

  1. M T McGuire Says:

    Thanks for the handy hints. I’m getting quite nervous about my forthcoming talk. Mostly about the PowerPoint side of it.




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