Hints for When You Are the Guest Speaker
You have been invited to be guest speaker at a local club or organization and after the initial pleasure of having been asked, reality sets in. Obviously you were asked to speak because someone considered your expertise or experience would be appropriate for their meeting or event. But are you really up to it? Will you be able to avoid making a fool of yourself?
The answers to these questions are of course you’re up to it, otherwise you would never have been asked and of course you can avoid making a fool of yourself – it just takes prior preparation. Hopefully these hints will help you.
Why have you been invited?
The first thing to consider is why you have been invited to speak to the particular group. What are they expecting of you? The organizer may have given you a specific brief, combining your expertise with the needs of the group’s members. Or they may have left the topic open for you to decide, simply wanting something that will interest, inform or entertain their members. It is really important to understand what is expected of you and what the purpose of your speech will be.
There are several factors to consider as you set about your speech preparation or planning your presentation.
- Will your content need to be general or specific? This will depend on the briefing you’ve been given for the occasion. It is best to narrow the content down to a few specifics covered well, than to try and include too much information.
- How much time have you been allocated? Your speech or presentation will probably be part of a longer meeting, so it is important to keep within the time allocation you’ve been given.
- Who will your audience be? Knowing the general makeup of the audience allows you to focus your speech content more specifically. You need to know things such as the gender ratio of the audience, age range and possible numbers attending.
- If you feel you need to use technology at all for your speech or presentation, ask first what is available and whether what you plan to use will be appropriate in the room or space you will be using.
- Check out the exact location of the meeting. This should include the address, the building name if it has one and the room you will be speaking in. Also know what time you will need to arrive.
- Consider whether or not you will offer handouts or notes about your presentation, but keep these until your speech or presentation is over.
Knowing what will happen when you arrive is also important. Arrive early and, after making contact with the key person, check out the room. Establish the speaking area available to you if need be and where the audience will be sitting. Feel free to ask if changes can be made to suit your speaking style if need be. Check that any equipment is available and working. Then, be free to mix and mingle with guests as they arrive.
After the meeting
Be available to answer questions, both within the allocated time frame and after as you mix and mingle with the guests.
Be prepared to offer your contact details either as an e-mail, web page or on a business card. These details should also be on any handouts you have prepared.
Following these pointers will enable you to be a successful guest speaker. With prior preparation and forward thinking about the occasion, everything should go according to plan and both you and your audience will enjoy the occasion.
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