We know Aristotle as an outstanding ancient Greek philosopher. But how could he have been able to share his wisdom if he had not been a good public speaker? Below are three pieces of his advice to consider when making your next speech.
1. Think about your audience rather than yourself.
For most people, a good speech means hours and hours of preparation. What do they often think while they are at it? “What if I fail?”, “What if people find me incompetent?”, “Can I answer all possible questions?”, etc.
Aristotle’s advice is to forget about all of those questions and focus on people whom you are addressing and whose attention you are seeking. Sounds easy, right? However, it is so difficult to put into practice.
Start by asking yourself who your audience is. How many listeners will there be? How old are they? Are they men or women? What do they want to know about you and your topic? Why have they come to listen to you? How can you help them?
Before you start writing, define the purpose of your talk – do you want to entertain, inform or inspire your listeners?
2. Understand your audience and make them happy.
You believe that your speech is about quarterly sales, corporate policy or a new fascinating invention. Your audience, however, is focused on a more personal topic – luck.
Aristotle lists several things that make people happy: health, family, wealth, social standing, etc. The success of you as a speaker depends above all on your ability to address the topic from the perspective of your audience – speaking in a way that enables them to truly understand you.
Let’s say you are offering a financial product. You know that it is good and useful. You have numbers to prove it. But what makes your audience happy? A long lecture about numbers or an explanation of how these numbers will make their lives better?
3. They speak the language of their audience.
Regardless of how much you share with your audience, their decision to agree with your thoughts and ideas depends on how trustworthy they consider you. “When speakers behave inappropriately,” Aristotle wrote, “their credibility is questioned – even when they speak the truth.”
It is intuitive that awkward body language or unsuitable clothing draws people’s attention away from your message. Instead of worrying about the dos and don’ts, focus your attention on how to frame your presentation in the audience’s cognitive universe. If your audience uses the metric system, do not talk about inches.
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HARDI KINNAS, CO-FOUNDER OF ANONYMOUS PRESENTERS