Let’s face it — public speaking is an inevitable part of most of our lives.
Experts define public speaking as “the process, or act of performing a speech to a live audience.”
However, public speaking could be as simple as leading a team meeting, presenting to a client or even holding a meaningful conversation at a networking event.
In fact, at its core, public speaking is simply another form of communication — pure and simple.
We are all public speakers at one time or another, which makes it exceptionally important to speak with poise, credibility and humanity.
If you want to become a better public speaker or simply a better communicator, consider the following tips.
Recognize your why for speaking in the first place; keep it in mind throughout the preparation and delivery of your speech.
What is the core message or overall theme of your speech? What do you want your audience to take away from your presentation?
Get specific; think of a particular outcome. Do you want to inspire/motivate/inform/persuade your audience?
Establishing your purpose will set the foundation and framework for your presentation, as well as the style of communication.
Assuming you have some background knowledge of your audience, assess your audience. Are they colleagues or clients? Superiors or peers?
First and foremost, know who your audience is so that you can communicate with them effectively.
When it comes to the type of language you use, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Assuming your audience will understand overly technical jargon or terminology may play to your disadvantage.
The risk in doing so is alienating a portion of your audience and thus losing their attention and connection.
Aim to simplify your message, as aptly as you can without sacrificing on content. The most skilled speakers can effectively communicate even the most complex topics into simple, yet effective terms.
By simplifying your message, you gain numerous benefits:
Speakers often think the assistance of a PowerPoint or visuals is an aid to their presentation. This idea is both wrong and right.
Visuals can be valuable to a presentation if used sparingly and effectively. If you choose to use a PowerPoint, keep your slides clean and simple.
Don’t be afraid of white space! Focus on highlighting key points, which support not distract from your message.
The risk in using too many visuals is distracting your audience from YOU — the main event. A poor use of slides are those crammed with walls of text, graphs, videos, images and more.
It comes across as cluttered and frankly, reduces your credibility as a speaker.
You also open up the possibility of running into a tech problem or faulty presentation — a problem you don’t need just minutes before “go time.”
Your audience is more likely to remember you and your presentation when you tie it into personal moments rather than bland facts and figures.
Share an anecdote or compelling story — be human. Charisma and passion are two of the most highly valued traits of successful speakers.
Let your enthusiasm radiant to your audience so that they can get on board with your message.
Once you’ve prepared your presentation, practice, practice, practice. Practice is the best remedy for eliminating filler words, stutters, nerves, jitters, etc.
There’s nothing better than seeing yourself present on video — you can check out your body language, movements, facial expressions, stage presence and energy.
Ask a friend to watch your recording or presentation, and supply their feedback. As your presentation starts to become more natural, you’ll benefit from greater ease on the day of.
Over 90% of communication is nonverbal, which begs the question: do words really matter?
Of course, they do! But what matters the most if how you convey your words.
If your mind is not in the right place to inspire, motivate, inform or entertain, your words won’t land, as you intend. A simple solution is power posing.
Power posing is the act of assuming particular body language, to impart desired emotions/feelings onto yourself.
For example, If your goal is to feel empowered and confident before a presentation, assume a posture which makes you feel empowered and confident, such as standing tall with hands on hips or arms overhead in fists of triumph.
It may feel odd or unnatural to begin, but your mind will eventually catch up with your body. It’s recommended to assume a power pose for around 2 minutes, to feel the effects.
If you have the opportunity to view your presentation space beforehand, become familiar with your surroundings.
Adjust the podium to your desired height, test the sound system and survey the room, so you can be sure to address your entire audience, even the ones in the back or tucked in the corner.
Set up your presentation or music in advance and do a run-through, to make sure all is functioning properly and displayed as it should.
If you have a defined time limitation, consider bringing a clock or timer, so you can be sure to stay within the parameters.
If you are using a presentation or visual, have a backup flash drive handy, in case of a tech malfunction.
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