Speaking Better

There were a few things I did differently in my talk this time (a few points recommended by Atanu). Public speaking is something I am learning to be better at. So, talks like the one I gave at Columbia are a good opportunity to learn and improve. It is hard to create the same setting in an informal environment.

  • Tell Stories: Stories create a lasting impact. My speeches in the past have tended to be dry. This time, I peppered it up with a few stories.
  • Keep an Outline: Like newscasters, an outline in front helps in sticking to the script. I did not show any slides – they tend to distract the audience. But I used a slides outline to ensure I did not have to either enitirely memorise or read the speech, both of which would not have been good. The former because I would always worry about what I had to speak next, and the latter because I would have lost the spontaneity.
  • Have a Timer: I had a fixed time limit, and intended to stay in that. Without a timer, it is easy to lose perspective of time and get carried away with speaking too long.
  • Speak Slowly: I slowed it down a wee bit this time around, and that helped.

I also shifted the focus of the talk from the “what” to the “how” of transforming India. That created an element of surprise, which again helped.

Feedback on what I could have done better is appreciated!