5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before A Public Talk {6 minute read}

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 JJA, we work with amazing speakers who deliver brilliant content and keep the audience entertained.​
But for those who have had less experience on stage, either new to speaking or looking to improve their skills, I wanted to share some advice to help you on your way.

This is the first in series of 3 blogs designed to help speakers at all levels of experience elevate their speaking game. ​This series begins​ before you take the stage, before you write your speech, maybe even before you accept the engagement. Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself to get off on the right foot:​

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

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

2) 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 nuggets can you offer to create that excitement?

3) 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 it memorable and repeatable.

4) 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.

5) What tone will work best with this audience?

  • Though a friendly, conversational tone often resonates best; to command attention you sometimes need to adopt 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 sale-y talk is exactly what this audience needs” so please, don’t do that.

Too often, when people get 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.

Look out for blogs #2 and #3 in the coming weeks.

Jeff Lohnes | JL@jeffjacobsonagency.com | 647.261.3419

About the Author:
Jeff Lohnes is a speaker agent, speaker coach, proud Nova Scotian, hip hop lover, aspiring chef, traveler and digital explorer (whatever that means). Most of all, he’s extremely passionate about bringing great ideas to life through the power of storytelling and public speaking.

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