I get so excited and feel honored whenever a group of women ask me to speak at one of their meetings. It might be a presentation at a Mothers of Preschoolers’ (MOPS) meeting or leading a conversation at a Junior League meeting. Both might ask me to share the same material but I will prepare my presentations in different ways since my audience will be different at each meeting.
I have learned through various mistakes as well as collecting feedback from friends in the audience, how to improve my public speaking technique; all of which have made me a more poised and polished speaker.
No matter which group of women I may be talking to, I always do these five things before I get up to speak.
- I ask a personal friend to attend the meeting where I will be speaking. If location allows, I have a friend meet me at the venue and plant herself amongst the crowd of women. I do this for two reasons: 1.) It makes me feel supported, and 2.) I get immediate, unedited feedback.
- When someone asks me to speak, I ask them to tell me in a nutshell what they want their audience to know. What is the key message or focus of the meeting? This helps me narrow down my speaking topic as well as provide clear communication between me and the person who is asking me to speak. This eliminates any doubt as to what their moms will be hearing.
- I always provide a personal anecdote. The first thing I do before I start my talk is share something funny about myself. It helps break the ice and makes everyone (including myself) more comfortable and ready to hear the message.
- I bring an outline of my talk with me. I don’t type out everything I’m going to say, but I put in bold type things I want to highlight. That way, if I lose my spot or get nervous, I can glance down at my notes and see where I can pick back up.
- I give my attendees something tangible to hold onto, like a printout of my topic or my favorite piece of scripture. I have found that if I give something to them, they are more likely to take notes and be invested in what I’m saying. This is also a great way to give them a snapshot into who you are and what your platform is. Mine happens to be helping moms go from overwhelmed to in control, so my handout usually has a short bio about myself, links to my website and social media accounts, as well as a few questions they can ask themselves for further thought.
The next time you get up to speak in front of an audience, use these tips to help you feel more prepared. Not only will you worry less about what you sound like, but you will also come across more confident and increase your chances of being asked back again.
Click here for your free downloadable “Overwhelmed to In Control” worksheets and here for your ABC Scripture cards from Meagan’s book, “I See You: Helping Moms Go from Overwhelmed to In Control.”
Parenting journalist and author, Meagan Ruffing, encourages and equips other moms who may be feeling overwhelmed and lonely in the midst of parenting in her debut book, “I See You: Helping Moms Go from Overwhelmed to In Control.” Meagan talks about the challenges of living with a child who has behavioral disorders and talks candidly about her struggles with mom guilt. To read more about Meagan’s story and real-life parenting tips, visit her at www.meaganruffing.com.