Is There A Difference Between Presentation Skills And Public Speaking?
A post from our Presentation Skills blog
Written by Steve
While in junior school, I had a pretty traumatic experience giving a presentation, or what used to be called "an oral".
Throughout high school, I worked on ensuring that this never happened again, and by the time I left school, I actually loved "giving orals", or basically just making a speech.
Then, once out in the real world, and confronted with having to speak to unknown big groups, all the nerves and fears flooded back.
So what was the difference?
I mean, is there actually a difference between "giving a presentation" and "public speaking"?
Believe It Or Not, They're Very Similar
So what do public speakers and presenters have in common?
Well, in the first instance, they face the same challenges. Overcoming ‘stage fright,' pitching their voice at the right level, understanding their audience and researching content to ensure their facts are correct, are just some of the skills needed for anyone interested in public speaking or building presentations.
Overall, though, the ambitions of the two are almost identical; and so it stands to reason that the novice public speaker will benefit from attending courses originally designed with the professional presenter in mind.
What Are The Similarities?
If you are considering – or perhaps even practicing – public speaking, then you already have one thing in common with the person looking to learn presentation skills: an audience. The remaining similarities are a little more complex – but certainly not difficult to understand or learn given the right mentor and learning environment.
The points we've outlined below have been taken directly from some of our best-selling presentation courses and underline the extent to which they overlap with the objectives of an aspiring public speaker:
1. You Need An Objective
Whether you're selling, explaining – or just want to improve your self-confidence – you'll need to have an aim.
This could be teaching your audience something new, pitching a product or service, or even telling them a funny story. Public speakers, like presenters, must therefore structure their dialogue around this central ‘theme' to ensure they get their point across clearly.
And your objective usually is tied to getting that audience to do something. Which means that you need a CTA, or Call to Action.
2. Who Are You Presenting To?
This dovetails in with the above point.
In fact, arguably, this should be your first consideration.
Before you agree on your core objective you need to ask yourself whether it's thematically compatible with the audience coming to listen to you speak.
Will your choice of topic be relevant – and, above all, interesting to them? Will it grab their attention? Building presentations effectively as a public speaker in this manner is extremely important.
3. How Will You Get Their Attention?
Just as with the delivery of presentations, you'll be faced with the alarming prospect of walking in to a roomful of people who'll be expecting you to deliver something clear, powerful and memorable.
The repeated use of key phrases will help re-enforce the central theme of your speech and find common ground with your audience – a skill that's essential to building presentations too.
But most importantly, whether it's a small group you're presenting to, or a massive crowd, you need what's called a hook. What are you going to say or do to capture their attention?
What Are The Differences?
Time to look at some differences.
There are, in fact, very few discrepancies to be found when comparing public speaking with the delivery of presentations.
The primary challenge faced when considering this transition is that of environment: as a presenter you'll often be sitting down with people you know in an intimate setting where you can share your ideas openly.
A public speaker will, conversely, find themselves in larger settings and talking to their audience, with little interaction occurring until the very end when the speech is curtailed (and your efforts hopefully rewarded by a healthy round of applause).
Besides the environment, when delivering a presentation, the chances are that you will know a good portion of the audience.
Think of the presentation you're giving to your department, or other colleagues at work. You know them.
Similarly, if you're doing a sales presentation, you probably who who you're presenting to, and even if you haven't met them before, may have had time to research them, as you know who will be there.
In contrast, when public speaking, the chances are you're going to know a much smaller portion of the crowd. maybe none of them!
And that often means you don't know their intent.
They may be there to actively cause you problems, in the form of protest.
Now, in a sales presentation, not every client may agree that your solution fits their problem and buys from you, but they're not really going to cause you all kinds of trouble as you talk, are they?
Public Speakers Will Benefit From Our Presentation Courses
As you'll no doubt have noticed, public speaking and presenting overlap in a number of important ways, meaning you'll be able to develop your skill sets – and measurably increase your confidence as a public speaker – by attending our Building Better Presentations and Delivering Effective Presentations courses.
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