By Louise Harris
No matter if giving a five-minute presentation to their department heads or a 30-minute speech in front of an audience of 200, people often make the No. 1 biggest mistake. They believe they don't need to prepare for the talk, says Arjun Buxi, an expert in leadership training and public speaking communication techniques.
Buxi teaches Communication at San Jose State University and has taken that knowledge to corporate America where he works as an Executive Coach. He provides leadership training, communication skills and entrepreneurial advice. He owns a company called Culture of Speak.
“When people are asked to speak, they often say 'I will wing it because I know this stuff.' This is the wrong approach,” Buxi said during our interview. “This mistake leads to them rambling on the podium, using a lot of filler words, and getting no impact from their talk. The audience doesn't listen or care.”
Psychological and Physical Preparation Is Needed
Before people go to speak on stage or in a board room, they need to prepare their bodies physically and their minds mentally. They should read over their notes, take deep breaths and warm up their vocal chords prior to speaking. They need to put themselves in the right frame of mind, so they feel prepared.
Beyond that, they need to do research. They need to understand their audience members, their demographics, what they want to learn, needs of different genders and cultures, etc. If they are speaking to department heads, they already would know about colleagues in the company, but they still have to understand why they are there listening to the speaker. When speakers know their audience, they are more confident and more able to present the right materials.
Follow Composition Rules
Every American student learns how to write a composition paper in school. They are told to have a good introduction, followed by paragraphs in the body and a strong conclusion. To have a successful speech, Buxi added, speakers must follow these guidelines. They should open with a good beginning, lead into the body or meat of the speech, and conclude with points people can take with them. Speakers should leave their audience wanting more and feeling they got their value from the time they spent listening to the expert. Buxi recommends speakers go through their speech line by line and analyze each sentence. This would allow the person speaking to see flaws or holes in their talk, and understand what he or she wants to achieve from their talk.
In his coaching, Buxi uses techniques he developed that are different from other coaches to get clients ready for their talks or to be leaders in companies. When he teaches online, he tells clients to stick to their principles, find the need of the audience or company executives, balance those issues during the presentation or speech, and have goals on what they expect to get from the event. Often, people don't know what they want to achieve through their speech. While he values face-to-face situations, he understands the need for online education. Executives are busy or work at remote locations and can't get to a location for a class on leadership or public speaking training.
“It's an inconvenience for them. Online communication (like meeting on Savvy) makes the process seamless and easy. This is the value of on-demand, online education,” he said.
Although leadership training and public speaking have many similar attributes, he approaches the work differently, he said. For leadership training, he discusses cultural aspects of working at a company. He examines the brand and drives the ball down the field to the end goal, but it doesn't end. The process is slow and long-term. On the other hand, public speaking training is short-term and more concise learning. He takes a linear approach in this instance.
Preparation is key to successful speeches whether executives are discussing financial reports to the chief executive officer or to the 2,000 stockholders at the annual meeting, he concluded.