Have you ever tried watching an entire press conference with Trump? It’s a challenge.
A few days ago I watched parts of his meeting with Justin Trudeau and the press. My downtime in front of the TV didn’t last longer than 5 minutes. Every part of his speaking and presentation made me cringe. I bet most of us can do better. You don’t even need to visit long, exhausting public speaking classes at university to reach a good level, but just remember a few easy things about public speaking.
Don’t be like Trump. Think about the following points to avoid big public speaking mistakes.
Extend your vocabulary
Every time I think of Trump, I think of either his body language or the small range of vocabulary he is using. I’m probably not the first to notice. It’s really, really bad. Believe me. It’s true. He stopped learning new words in high school. I feel this. It’s true. To say it in his own vocabulary. He never expresses precisely what he means, maybe because of a lack of words.
You can do better. Try to read books as much as possible in your free time. Not only does reading improve empathy or your overall intelligence as studies have shown, but it makes you more articulate. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or not. Both introduce you to new vocabulary. Even if you like to read romantic novels in your free time, you’ll get a new idea on how to express a certain emotion.
Listen to speeches of others in your field. Or just good speeches in general. In general, I highly recommend the famous TED talks. For almost every aspect in life you’ll find a wonderful speaker introducing you to “Why you should love statistics” for instance. Most of them only take 15 minutes, so you can squeeze them in during a walk or your commute.
Watch movies. This especially applies to people who want to become more articulate regarding a foreign language. Like me. This blog doesn’t use the highest standards of wording, but I try to get there. Day by day. By watching English series, speeches of politicians (however, no Trump for me anymore) and reading books in bed. You can get better with every little step.
With all this, your public speaking already improves tremendously.
Learn proper storytelling
It is very simple. People love to hear a good story. A plot with an interesting start and a great, inspiring or unexpected ending. While this sounds simple, it’s probably the hardest part of public speaking, but manageable. There are certain tips you can remember. I can’t list them all, but here are a few pages that do:
- 25 Killer Resources to Learn Storytelling
- 7 Storytelling Techniques Used by the Most Inspiring TED Presenters
- Forbes: The Secret to Good Storytelling
- 8 Classic Storytelling Techniques for Engaging Presentations
You want to know if you’re plot is well developed? Remember this: I loved a quote someone lately said (can’t remember the source, though. Sorry!). “If you can’t drop the mic just like Obama after his last speech, you’ve done something wrong.”
Deliver a clear message
This goes hand in hand with tips mentioned above. Watch other talks and presentations to know how to deliver a clear message in your presentation. Your overall story can be great, but it doesn’t counterbalance an ending where everyone is wondering what to do next. Give good advices and strong ideas for your audience. And most of all: Don’t use too many filler words like Donald Trump. Everytime I listen to him, I kind of get an idea of what he wants to say, but I never know entirely what he really just said now. Make a message stand out!
Proper Q&A preparation
We all know what happens at Trumps press conferences. Remember when he shut down CNN reporter Jim Acosta by saying he is ‘fake news’? “Don’t be rude. I am not gonna give you a questions.” – That’s what he said. It has sparked debates about serious problems for freedom of opinion all over the world. However, it also shows how little Donald Trump is prepared for critical questions from his audience. He doesn’t like to get queries from anyone opposing his views. But he should be. This is what makes a good public speaker and an open minded person. Good presenters engage with the audience. With all of it.
If you can try to include a Q&A part in your presentations. First of all, this helps your audience understanding your speech entirely. Second of all, it helps you, too. You’ll get feedback and an idea of unsolved issues your project might have and which you haven’t realised yet.
Try to take a different path as Trump and prepare for it as much as you can. There might be someone popping a provocative question. Know this and prepare answers. You can do this!
Watch your body language
For me, that’s what freaks me out about Trump the most. His constant use of his index, raising and waving his hands. It makes me nervous. It doesn’t look like a calm leader and statesman, but more like a scared person desperately trying to teach everyone a lesson.
Several studies have shown that humans send direct messages with their bodies even before starting to talk. The impact of your speech does not only depend on your words. Be aware of this.
Even though I feel uncomfortable seeing Trump using his index, it is not wrong in general. Use your hands! It emphasizes important parts of your speech. But keep the gestures small and not too hectic or fast-paced. And don’t look like a teacher warning someone all the time.
With all this, you should be well prepared for your next presentation. But there might always be one part you struggle with the most. Tell me which part you would like to be better with: