This is the second part of Jobpostings.ca's series exploring public speaking. Our first instalment, "Conquer your fear of public speaking," explored presentation tips. Here, we explore writing tips for public speaking with Pamela Hart, founder of Vancouver's Release Your Voice program.
When we last spoke to Pamela Hart, founder of the Release Your Voice program, she told us that much of the terror accompanying public speaking derives from uncertainty. Which, in a job interview, can drastically hamper your performance.
"The more things are unexpected, the more fearful you are," says Hart. "The more you know about your audience, the less your body says, 'I'm going to die.'
Research of your audience is key, as is knowing your material. Before an interview, get some exercise. Prepare two weeks in advance, talk to someone who's in the audience [or your future employer]. I go over my speech three or four times the night before, and my rule of thumb is if you can go over it 15 times, you'll be dynamite."
I also suggest getting yourself some rituals you perform before speaking."
Hart isn't talking about religiously wearing your lucky pair of socks (although if you think it helps your public speaking, go for it). Instead, she recommends seizing the part of your speech—or your job interview—that you actually can control.
And what can you control? Your words. When it comes to public speaking, much of your preparation will come down to writing—even if you're no Ernest Hemingway.
So, how can you effectively translate your writing into a gripping public presentation? Here are some of Hart's tips.
1. Structure it like a high-school essay. Keep it simple. Your presentation isn't an editorial from The Atlantic, a page from an academic journal, or spoken-word poetry. "Structurally, it's the same as an essay," she says. "You have your thesis, which is your opening and intent. Then, you have your supporting information, or your reason for believing your argument. Then you have your closing, or your call to action."
2. Write, but don't script. Ever had a call from a telemarketer, where the caller read a half-baked sales pitch from a script? If so, did they ever manage to sell you whatever they were hawking—a medical bracelet, credit packages or timeshares? No? We thought so. Here's why.
"I don't believe in writing presentations out [in full]," says Hart. "Because when you read a presentation verbatim, it's sounds fake. It's phoney. It's not real. Therefore, when you write, put your presentation in bullet points."
3. Bullet points should be your points—with a bullet. And here's what that means: In writing, your bullet points should summarize your key ideas. "You're not going to stand up and read your presentation," adds Hart. "So be sure to know what your key messages are, because people aren't going to walk away with a copy of your presentation."
4. Learn when to improvise. Even comedian Louis CK—celebrated for his razor-sharp wit and ability to adapt to his routines to razz hecklers—writes out each of his performances. Meaning that, even for the most seasoned improv pros, writing is at the core of performance.
That doesn't mean, though, that you shouldn't improvise. Just pick your spots wisely. "It depends on how comfortable you are with your audience," says Hart. "If you're comfortable with your audience, you can be more spontaneous, and use things that come to mind in the moment.
Structure yourself to stay on track, but read the non-verbal feedback you're getting from your audience. Sometimes, when you talk to your audience, you'll walk out saying, 'That was so brilliant! I can't believe I said that!'"
And if you catch yourself in a moment of brilliance, it's likely your audience will, too.