Sunday 17 December 2017

Problem solver: Real-life stories are the last word in successful public speaking

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn

Feargal Quinn

Q: Have you any tips on public speaking? I have to give two presentations to large audiences over the next few months?

A: Your question reminds me of a funny story about public speaking. I had received an invitation from a Chamber of Commerce in a regional towns to talk at one of their events.

The person arranging the event asked if I would be charging a fee, and when I said I would be happy to speak at the event for free, he then replied: "That's great, we can keep that money for a good speaker later on, so."

Immediately recognising what he had said, the poor man spent the next 10 minutes apologising and we both had a great laugh.

Presentation style is something very individual.

I never used slides with words and always found it better when I had photos or images which depicted the point I was about to make.

Obviously the substance of your content is critical, and I always spend some time ahead of the event thinking about my audience and how I could focus on something they wouldn't necessarily have thought about beforehand.

I also think it is really important that you have stories to back up the points you are making. In other words if you can substantiate your argument with a real-life example, this will really bring the topic to life.

Humour can play an important role and it's always nice to have a few business jokes you can fall back on. It is a little bit like being an actor on stage.

You have to be able to command your audience and put on a show which keeps their attention. That will require plenty of preparation and over time you will fine tune and perfect you skills.

Q: I run a medium-size business. I know digital media is very important, but with keeping on top of things day-today I just can't motivate myself to find the necessary time. Is there any magic solution?

A: Your question is probably reflective of similar sentiment felt by many. There is very little dispute that a good digital media strategy can help build a brand and accelerate the consumer understanding of your business.

The challenge usually comes from either a time-management perspective or a personality trait which rejects social media.

The good news is, that if you are not personally a fan of social media, then it is perfectly acceptable to have someone else suitably knowledgeable doing your posts and other activity on your behalf.

Of course you can't beat if you are doing it yourself, however I know lots of businesses who have a young motivated student doing some superb work for them.

The only word of caution is, do not assume that some 21-year-old student who has thousands of personal followers on Facebook, is going to be good at business digital media.

You might want to have a look at the training calendar of your local enterprise office and find out when the next training for digital media is on.

Attend this course yourself with the person who will be managing it on your behalf - that way, at least you will understand the critical importance of it and you will also know what they should be doing. Certainly don't fight digital media. Embrace it and either make it happen yourself, or get someone else to do it under your guidance.

Send your small business questions to himself@feargalquinn.ie

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