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 public speaking skills

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Public Speaking Skills: 

Banquet/Luncheon Tips

In years of perfecting my public speaking skills, I have learned some key tips to having successful public speaking engagements where meals were part of the program. You may need to politely inform the program coordinator to consider some of the following points: 

(Many of these tips work whether food is being served or not) 

Avoid spacing round tables widely apart in an attempt to fill the 
available space. Distance makes audience involvement and participation much more difficult. 

A better idea would be to space the tables as close together as 
practicable (allowing enough room for comfortable waiter and waitress 
movement). Empty room space could be filled with a decorative divider 
of some sort. Your public speaking skills are important when helping people to help 
you do the best for their group. 

Avoid a great distance between the head table /dais / speaker area and 
the first row of tables. Again, distance is a great barrier to speaking and interaction. 

Consider allowing the speaker an option of speaking areas. Many 
speakers who are tops in having outstanding public speaking skills can do a better job if they are not confined behind a head table and/or lectern. 

Try to set the head table / speaker area on the long side of the room. 
This means that the back row participants will be closer to the speaker 
than if you set the head table / speaker area on the short side of the 
room (participants will feel they are really far from the action). 

Most public audiences like being closer to the speaker too. To 
accomplish this, place extra chairs near the front of the room to be 
used by the head table participants after dinner (of course, this would 
depend on your overall program). You would not want them seated behind 
the speaker during the program. Set the head table back from the front 
of the podium. The speaker can perform in front of the head table. 

Set buffet tables far to the side or on the opposite end from the 
speaker area. If someone goes back for late seconds or arrives late, 
he or she will not be disruptive. 
Discourage use of doors anywhere near the head table/speaker area. 
All these placement factors are a key part to your public speaking skills.

The aspect of timing is also important to your public speaking skills. When your 
on a tight time schedule, having desserts placed on the table midway through the meal can help. 

Arrange with banquet staff to cease all bussing of tables on a 
pre-arranged signal. Many functions have less than interesting 
openings because service personnel are running around for the first 10 
minutes of a talk. This gets everything off to a bad start. 

Ten minutes before the program is to start, it is very helpful to 
announce something like the following: "The program will start in ten 
minutes. Please get your drink refills, (go to the little boys and 
little girls room), grab another piece of cake and then take your seats 
and get ready for a great program!" 

When planning lighthearted / humorous speaking programs, avoid heavy 
subjects before the speaker, i.e., don't show tearjerker slides of 
starving children (actually happened to a speaker friend of mine), in 
an effort to raise funds. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for raising funds for good causes, but if 
you do this just before a humorous public speaking event or comedy 
show, you may have wasted your money on the talent and actually made it 
inappropriate for them to do the job for which they were hired. Having good public speaking skills involves knowing what else is on the program and 
when, so that you can maximize your benefit for your audience. 

When speaking in public settings where food is involved you must 
make a special effort to take care of logistical details so your speech 
is well received. Learning these public speaking skills are just as important as what you say.

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