10 tips for delivering the perfect talk as a social entrepreneur

There’s no backing out now. You’ve got your first speaking gig as a social entrepreneur… and you’re absolutely dreading it.

Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Even the most experienced public speakers are hit by nerves every time they’re asked to head to the stage.

There’s one simple reason for this: it’s one of the most unnatural things you can do as a human being. Standing in front of a room full of people just isn’t something we have to do each day, and it isn’t typically the way we communicate with people.

That means to get good at public speaking, you need to work at it, which is why we’ve decided to list our ten favourite quick-fire tips for delivering the perfect talk as a social entrepreneur.

1. Make it personal

The best talks take a personal angle on an industry-specific subject. As a social entrepreneur, you’re blessed with many options for this, due to your line of work. Tell them your story!

2. Look into their eyes

Connect with your audience. You’ve got cue cards to follow, sure, but make sure they’re only glanced at; spend the majority of the time looking into the eyes of your audience.

3. Pause – lots

Some of the best elements of any talk are the silent parts. Watch the masters at work on YouTube or TED, and you’ll notice that they all pause regularly, and for longer than feels natural when you’re up there. It adds drama, calms the room and really draws the audience in.

4. Don’t listen to the ‘death by PowerPoint’ crowd

People still use PowerPoint slides for talks – don’t believe those who say it kills the mood. The trick lies in being judicious with their use and creative with the content.

5. Add some humour

Don’t be afraid to be irreverent, cheeky or to poke fun at your industry. All but the most uptight members of your audience will chuckle along and immediately ease your nerves when they do so.

6. Smile

This one’s easy. Smile as you talk, and as you look at the crowd. It’ll change the way you feel and the manner in which your talk comes across.

7. Be animated

Use your hands. Fling them around. Jump up and down. Move away from the podium and walk the length of the stage. Whatever you do, don’t stand resolutely still.

8. Speak with passion

Don’t be afraid to get passionate about the subject. If you pick the right topic, you’ll almost definitely want to get animated about it. Holding back those emotions will make for a tepid talk, whereas letting them out will make it memorable – for the right reasons.

9. Brainstorm potential questions

Chances are, you’ll get some questions at the end of your talk, and while you can’t predict them all, you can definitely have a good stab at guessing the most obvious and preparing a few handy answers for them.

10. Be yourself

Talking in front of a room full of people might be an unnatural thing to do, but that doesn’t mean you need to put on an act. People will love your talk if you’re clearly being yourself; nerves, stutters and all!

Wrapping up

Like anything in life, the more you undertake speaking engagements, the better you’ll get at them. Our tips above are non-exhaustive, but they will get you off to the best possible start on this exciting entrepreneurial journey.