Gary 'Smiler' Turner's Blog

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Friday, 21 May 2010

Wouldn’t it be good if public speaking was easy?

Public speaking, presentations, performance, talks, speeches – they can’t be easy, can they?

Well, sometimes they are. And then, sometimes, they definitely aren’t! But you can help to stack the odds in your favour.

Am I the greatest speaker on the planet? Nope, definitely not! Although I’m studying some who I consider to be really on top of their games, and learning from what they do, so that I can practice and be the best I can be. Following others gives you the ‘short cut’. In this blog post I’ll put forward just a few of the things I’m doing to get better at presenting – and give you the short cuts to what I have already learned.

Within my sporting fields I am a very experienced public speaker. I can carry out a seminar pulling from my lifetime’s knowledge to carry my group of clients from exactly where they are, to where they want to be, in the time that we have allowed. The talk and my demonstrations are pitched exactly how they need to be pitched. And I thoroughly enjoy my seminar work.

And then there are times when I carry out speaking on subjects that I am an expert or specialist in, but haven’t presented on before. These aren’t always so easy!

Here I am on a voyage of discovery! I utilise something called ‘perceptual positions’, and place myself in my client’s shoes, so I can better understand what it is they would like presented – I need to know their ‘pain’, so I can provide a solution to that pain. Where possible I carry out market research to further identify how to pitch the seminar. I then write, schedule, memorise, work out the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘if then’s’, doing all my planning and preparation all fitted to the time allowed.

Then the presentation is written. Metaphors are formed for people to take their individual meaning from the messages contained within. The ‘big picture’ people are catered for as are those that like the tiny details. I write for those that like to know what it is all about, those that wonder why, those that need to know how, and those that ponder on the application of the subject and diversity of the application. Demonstrations and interaction are built in so that people can ‘experience’ elements that I am speaking about. I play to the expected personalities and the anticipated knowledge base of the people being spoken to. I utilise hypnotic language patterns, embedded commands, and every other linguistic skill that I have. I plan the answers to anticipated questions.

And then I present my seminar. During this I use voice tonality to deliver my points and a particular focus is placed on body language, from posture, to positioning, facial expressions and the gestures I make. Every movement should have a purpose to illustrate your talk. Using my movement I help to code time, and I use something called ‘spatial anchors’ to help guide my audience. I build a connection with my audience from the moment I start, and seek to maintain that connection through to completion – and build on it.

Sometimes it goes great – sometimes I miss the mark. I presented a ‘Performance in Golf’ talk recently, and the feedback was incredibly varied! Some thought it was the best thing since sliced bread, some wanted to learn more and said I had really opened their eyes, and then for some it completely fell short. I obviously had a connection with a good proportion of the audience – but at the same time I had completely lost another!

And that’s why I always ask for feedback – I want to know what worked – but of more importance I need to know what didn’t! Because from this I can take on board the views of the most important people – my clients who I’m presenting to. And the better I can serve them the more successful I can become.

I got back late from the Performance in Golf seminar, and instantly set about re-writing the whole presentation from the feedback I myself had noted during the presentation. The next time I present the mistakes won’t be made, and the best bits improved too.

One of the persons I have studied is possibly the world’s greatest stand-up comedian, Chris Rock. His performances are electrifying – and this is of no surprise. He pieces his act together bit by bit, discovering what parts work while leaving out what doesn’t, practising and developing, and using audience feedback every step of the way. He carries out an incredible number of very small-club appearances to fully test his content, building in a massive amount of repetition, working the material again and again. He hones his actual skills of delivery better than anyone else I’ve studied. His ‘spatial anchoring’ is so skilled that he can play the mood of the audience just by where he positions himself on stage. When he finally gets up on stage the spontaneous laughter in the audience is of no surprise to him. He’s earned it through his preparation.

So the next time you present will your audience be laughing at you, or will you have carried out your preparation, and enjoy the audience laughing along with you…?

If you are interested in Gary presenting to you and your friends, your sports club, business, association, social group or whoever – please don’t hesitate to contact Gary via

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