Before You Give a Speech: Tom Antion's Checklist

By Tom Antion

Questions to ask the Meeting Coordinator:

What does the organizer want to accomplish because of my appearance?

Why was I chosen?

How many people are expected to be in the audience?

What are their job responsibilities?

What is the male/female ratio?

What time am I supposed to speak?

What is on the program just before I speak?

What is on the program just after I speak?

What is the conference title and theme?

Who will introduce me?

Who are the other speakers on the program?

What kind of seating is being used?

What kind of microphone and A/V equipment is available?

May I have a list of expected attendees so that I may interview some of them for a few minutes by phone in advance of the program?
(this is probably the most powerful technique I know of to really connect with the audience when you speak. I always interview at least 15 audience members.)

Questions to ask the interviewees

With regard to the topic I am presenting on, what are the three biggest challenges you face in completing your daily duties? (then let them talk)

Do you have any interesting stories about things that have happened to you while you were working?

Questions to ask yourself

Considering all the answers I got from the phone interviews, what are the three (or five depending on how much time you have) greatest areas of concern for the attendees.

What material do I have that can specifically address those concerns?

What stories do I have that will help them remember my points?

What visuals will I use?

What props will I use?

What should I include in the written introduction that I prepare for my introducer that will be appropriate for this audience.

How will I open the presentation?

How long will I go before I have a break?

What forms of audience interaction will I use?

In what form, and how much humor will I use?

Will I provide a handout, and if so, what should it include?

What will I do and say in case of an emergency (running out of the room screaming is not an option here)?

Should I have a Question & Answer session, or should I entertain questions as they come up?

How will I close the presentation?

How much and when will I practice this presentation?

How will I stay calm before the presentation?

Practice Points

Practice small sections of the talk in "throwaway time" . . . showering, fixing hair, shaving, cooking, etc. (DO NOT PRACTICE WORD FOR WORD)

Practice out loud so difficult word combinations are discovered.

Practice handling visuals and microphone (if handheld).

Triple practice opening and closing so they are highly polished.

Tom Antion is a veteran of over 2100 paid speaking engagements. He is the publisher of "Great Speaking" Ezine the largest professional level Internet speaking publication in the world. He is also the author of "Wake 'em Up Video Professional Speaking System" that teaches aspiring speakers both the art and business of getting paid to speak.

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