In my decades as a speaker, business coach, and strategic management specialist, I’ve always been a huge believer in asking powerful questions. When we ask the ‘right’ questions we can’t hide. When we ask the difficult questions we are better prepared. When we ask the questions that get us to the heart of the matter, then nothing else matters.
Questions help us to clarify…and clarity in our communication is one of the keys to being able to thrive in our lives—especially when we’re speaking in public.
Following are some questions to use as a preparation tool when you’re getting ready to make your next presentation:
- Who am I speaking to/who is my audience?
- What are their main issues/concerns/needs at the moment?
- If I don’t know the answers to these first two questions, who is the person I can contact to find the answers?
- What size will the audience be?
- What kinds of stories and statistics would help me draw them into my presentation?
- What would they most like to “leave” with? What would satisfy them (if that’s my goal) or make them think/challenge them or move them or…? (Be clear on what outcomes you think they want.)
- What state of mind am I in as I’m getting ready for this presentation?
- How do I feel about this audience? Do I have any judgments that I need to suspend about them or their issues/concerns/needs? Any biases (either positive or negative) I should consider?
- What do I need to do to prepare myself to speak to this audience?
- What concrete, tangible things can I do for myself to get myself in the best possible state to be ready for this talk and this audience?
- How much time do I need to really be ready to give this talk? And then take/make that time!
- Once you’ve done your outline and preparing, let it sit for a few hours/a day/a few days. Then come back to it, practice it again (maybe in front of someone you trust) and ask yourself, “Is this really singing for me?” “Does this feel good to me?” “Are there any areas I need to tweak to make this better?” “Am I putting my whole self into this?” Perhaps also ask your trusted volunteer audience to answer the same questions from their point of view.
- The day before you present:
“Have I planned for enough sleep? Hydration? Proper Nutrition?”
“How do I best relax into my readiness and let everything else go?”
Finally, on the day of your presentation, ask yourself, “What do I need to do and be to TRUST the process?”—Trust your preparation, your desire to speak to this audience, your willingness to be authentic. As you review your Personal Intention, relax into your magnificence and let yourself Stand & Deliver!