A guest post by Tom Maddocks of Media Training Associates
In the era of the TV news ‘soundbite’, the idea of a long political speech appeared to most of us be very old-fashioned, something that would never catch the interest of people with today’s near-zero attention span. Many would continue to make this argument, pointing to modest audiences even for the leaders’ speeches at the October party conferences. Yet elsewhere, public speaking appears to be gaining a renaissance, with more and more presentations now being streamed across the web – the popular TED talks being just one example – these have gained over 1.5 million followers on Facebook. Others (including all the Presidential candidates in the 2008 US election) have used Ustream.tv to stream themselves live over the internet. In the UK the RSA has made innovative use of the visual opportunities in its RSA Animate series – see http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/videos/
Could more organisations in the public, private and third sectors be making use of these opportunities to find an audience? To succeed, you don’t need high technology – some of this stuff is recorded with very basic equipment – but if you are representing your organisation, you do need to be able to sound interesting, and look professional. Increasingly when we run media training courses we find an element of coaching for appearing on videos or webinars is essential, even for people who think they’ll ‘never be on TV’. So good old-fashioned presentation skills are as important as ever. Convey energy, convey passion, convey enthusiasm, and ensure you have relevant and engaging content. Get to the point – whatever your platform it’s usually best to take a leaf from TED’s book and keep presentations, videos etc to 20 minutes maximum – a lot less for some topics. Don’t let yourself appear nervous by letting your eyes wander around – if talking direct to camera, keep them to camera. Finally, remember to smile and convey warmth, so you can really make a connection with your audience.