I had recently been to IIT Madras for a two-day hands-on workshop on Python programming language. It was an amazing experience. It's been 2 years for me out of college, and thanks to FSFTN, that actually gave me the platform for a lot of public speaking @ some colleges. I usually talk on topics like "Free Software", "Adoption of Free Software in Education", "Python Programming", "SaltStack" etc.
As a student who used to sit at workshops/talks, most of them end up starting nice and too boring in the midway itself. When I started listening to talks from FSFTN people, most of them felt the same way, but I used to push myself, because there were very interesting talks, and most of them tried to create interactive sessions. So when I wanted to talk, initially I followed the same style. But with no surprise, they didn't make an impact.
To break off my boring ways of talk, 3 speakers, created an impact in the way I talk at events now-a-days.
First of them was a person, who could always make sure nobody slept in his talks. For all FSFTN people, we all know, it was Yogesh. His mere standing on the stage and his style of talking, interested people. The way he used to convey the information very bold and clear, and the intermediate discussions off topics. I was quite impressed. I tried to adapt to some of his styles, which I felt would make a difference in the way I convey information.
And then, I heard another talk from, Prasanna, from FSFTN, when I first listened to his "Introduction to Python". The way he introduced, what a programming language is. He explained how electrical signals work and what is machine language. He then called up a few people who speak different languages and make them interact, and made them realize how they did not understand. But when the same set of people talked in a common language, they were all able to understand, and then related the different languages to programming languages, and the common language to machine language. Everybody in the hall understood, what he meant. The important lesson I learn here was, "Relating our concepts to our real world examples, makes us understand things better".
The last and the latest speaker, was Srravya, I listened to her talk in FSFTN's Summer Camp in June 2015. She was all flying the hall. One second she was in one end of the hall, and the other second she was in the other end. A very significant lesson was, "The enthusiasm of your participants is directly proportional to the enthusiasm you show while talking". (well, not all the times, they are dependent on how much sense you make to them)
With these three talking lessons, and my own thoughts and ideas of what kind of speaker I wanted to become, and how I wanted to propagate my ideas, I started out with various experiments on my public speaking. I had a few goals, which I wanted to stick to as a speaker. Along with the 3 important point I learnt from these speakers, I am listing out to what all things I follow when talking to people .
I didnt want to teach them everything.I only wanted to get them started.
The mere fact that , when giving a talk, a lot of people try to teach a lot of things. When I happened to attend a talk on "Improving Self Confidence", from Rotary Club, Trichy, the speaker tried to express too many things. As a matter of fact, he was trying to make sure he completes everything. But no, that dosent work. I being a speaker who talks to begginers, I didnt want them to teach everything, rather just give them enough which they will then continue to read up on.
Not to pull people towards my interests, rather help them identify their own
Another common mistake that many speakers do. If they have interest in things they love, they try to put that up. Its always great to mention what you love, but as a speaker, you are not there to boast about only your interests. Rather you are to create a platform, to identify what the participants interests are.
Make it easier for them to understand, but not spoon-feed.
Again an extension of what @prasanna does. They give you real world examples to make you understand things, but then stop right there. They let us explore and have our own learnings to ourselves. This is very important and makes a lot of sense. Ever heard of "Hacker Culture" ? This is also a part of it.
Talk in their language. don't use complicated words
The most common mistake I usually do, and still trying to fix it. Most of them talk with things they understand, rather come down and talk in a language they understand. That makes it all super easy.
Do not have paragraphs in the slides, rather just have key points.
If at all if you have paragraphs, please dont read the slides. They make no sense. but always have one-liners or images.
Don't just ask them to interact, rather make them interact.
Most people have the fear of talking in front of people (be it their own peers), so rather give them the mic, and ask them to interact. Initially they would feel bad, but at one point they would feel comfortable. They will start interacting. They will start questioning. That is good.
Have an attitude, that your participants would prefer.
I personally feel that, I am not giving a talk to boast about myself, but rather to create an atitude in them for them to stand up and learn/explore.
They being impressed about my talk is not the aim, rather being motivated is. Impression could be a by-product.
I could be wrong as well. But if you feel, you have some other very significant attributes , please do comment it out below, and if it makes, I would surely adapt to it in my talk.
Have Fun . .