How to Be a Great Guest Speaker, Part 3
Get the final 7 tips everyone should follow in order to be a great guest speaker.
This week’s articles is the last in a three-part series on how to be a great guest speaker. a continuation from last week. As a recap, Barbara Nixon inspired me to write 17 tips to be a great guest speaker and the first two articles covered tips 1-10. Today’s article will discuss the remaining tips 10-17. If you haven’t already read or listened to part one and two, it might be a good idea to do that first.
How to be a Great Guest Speaker
You may remember that I started this series off with the most important tip: Learn as much as you can about your audience. I’ve repeated that three times now, because it’s critical to your success as a guest speaker (and well, because I like to follow the rule of three.) In the second installment, the focus was on preparing for things that could go wrong. And, in fact, that’s where we pick up today with tip #11.
Guest Speaking Tip #11: Don’t Count On An Internet Connection
Don’t count on the Internet working 100% perfectly. If you plan to show a YouTube or TED video clip, download the video to your computer and show it from there. (Barbara uses YouTube Downloader, a free app.)
If you plan to demo a certain website, use Snag-It or Command/shift/4 on the Mac to take and save a few screen captures. You can show those in case you can’t access the website during the presentation. In fact, unless you absolutely need to use a live website, it’s better to use screen captures with key sections enlarged or highlighted. That way you are ensured nothing can go wrong with your demo. I know that, at times, it’s just more powerful to demo the live website. In that case, you’ll need to arrive extra early to run through the demo onsite to ensure that it will run smoothly. Oh and don’t forget a hard-wired connection is often faster than a wireless connection.
Guest Speaking Tip #12: Provide Key Information
Next, be sure to include key information (such as your contact information, the hashtag, or additional resources) at the beginning and the end (or perhaps on every slide) of your presentation. Barbara and I both like to have a detailed contact information slide as the last slide.
Though I sometimes leave that slide up during the Q&A session, I usually put it at the end of the Q&A as part of the available additional resources.
If you refer to websites or blogs in your presentation, create a set of social bookmarks for your audience so they can go to one place to find all the links instead of spending time during your presentation furiously scribbling down all the addresses.
Barbara uses Delicious for her social bookmarks and lets the audience know early in the presentation where they can find all the links. Another option is to tweet the links during the presentation and simply provide the hashtag. I also sometimes put all the links in a PDF document and make that available for download.
Guest Speaking Tip #13: Provide Your Slides Ahead Of Time
Upload your slides to SlideShare at least a day before your presentation if you want your audience (and others) to have access to them. You can choose to keep the slides private until just before or after the presentation, if you wish. Another alternative is to provide a protected PDF of the slides to your contact, and the PDF can be printed out ahead of time.
Guest Speaking Tip #14: Deliver Your Program No Matter What
The show must go on; be prepared to speak even if you don’t look or feel quite perfect.
Barbara once got caught in a deluge just as she opened her car door when arriving at a speaking event. Even with an umbrella, she was drenched. Her shoes and blazer sleeves were literally dripping. What did she do? She dashed into the restroom, grabbed some paper towels, mopped up what she could, and put a smile on her face.
Recently when I was at the airport waiting for a flight to a speaking engagement, I received a phone call that someone very close to me had died. Somehow, even though I was at the gate, I managed to miss the announcement for the flight. I missed my flight.
Luckily I had followed my own advice. I had allowed for ample travel time and had made sure there was another flight after the one I missed. Even though I would have preferred to just go home and scrap the presentation, I waited six hours until the next flight, and ultimately delivered the presentation on time. The show must go on because your contact and the audience are counting on you.
Guest Speaking Tip #15: Review Your Speaker’s Checklist
Create and review your guest speaker checklist of things you’ll need to bring to your presentation. Here are some items to consider including on your list. (I listed them in the order my order of importance.)
Computer & power cord
VGA adapter (Mac only)
Cell phone (emergency contact info in phone)
Address of the event/building name/room number name
Extension VGA cable
Extra AAA and AA batteries
Bottle of water
Business cards (more than you think you need)
Hard copy of the presentation
Backup USB with presentation loaded on it in both Mac and PC format
External speakers with their power cord (just in case there’s no sound system attached to the projector)
3.5mm audio cable
By using a list you won’t forget anything even if you have pre-presentation jitters.
Guest Speaking Tip #16: Write Your Own Introduction
Be sure to write and review your introduction. After all, who knows better why you are uniquely qualified to talk with this particular audience on this particular topic? If you’re not sure exactly how to do that, I wrote an article on what to say when introducing a speaker. That, of course, includes introducing yourself!
Give your introduction to your contact ahead of time, but also bring a copy of it with you. If your name is difficult to pronounce, leave a voicemail a day ahead that includes the proper pronunciation of your name and review again when you arrive. After understanding your audience, I’d say having a great introduction delivered by someone highly credible within the organization is the second most critical part of your success as a guest speaker. This step cannot be skipped.
Guest Speaking Tip #17: Be Engaging
Even if you’ve followed all the tips, if you are a boring or you don’t deliver a clear, concise, and compelling presentation, you won’t be successful either! You’ll need to know how to engage your audience from the opening to the closing. You’ll need to know how to sound better by punching up your delivery. You’ll need to be organized (perhaps by using the using the rule of three) to make your points stick. You’ll need to use and incorporate gestures. You’ll need good eye contact. You’ll need to sound conversational, incorporate great storytelling, and use good diction. Finally it’s most important to be passionate, effective and authentic, and perhaps even add humor to your talk. Of course, you’ll also need to avoid going over your time limit, reading your notes, and using non-words, like ums and ahs. (Coincidently, you’re in luck, I’ve written separate articles about all of these!)
So there you have it, the conclusion of this series of 17 quick and dirty tips to help you be a enjoyable, memorable, and easy to work with guest speaker. I don’t want you to that guest speaker—you know the high-maintenance one or worse the boring/irrelevant one! Have fun and let me know if I forgot anything.
This is The Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall, passionate about communication you success is my business. (And I want to again thank Barbara Nixon for inspiring and contributing to this article. Thanks Barbara!)
Interested in co-writing an episode with me? Send me a sample of your writing.