Whether it’s talking to a team in a meeting or making a presentation in front of a large audience, we all have to speak in public. How well or badly one does this affects people’s perception towards that person. However, there are many ways to overcome that anxiety, and in this article we will highlight some of those tips to improve public speaking.
1. PREPARATION IS KEY:
Take enough time to prepare your speech. From the beginning of your speech, you need to intrigue your audience and capture their total attention. Story-telling has proved to be a powerful opener. You could also begin with interesting facts and statistics about the topic.
2. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT:
Without practice one can never become a compelling and confident speaker. After creating your speech as early as possible, you give yourself ample time to practice it. At first, practice the speech alone with the resources you will use. Say it a few times and tweak the wordings whenever necessary until you get a smooth and easy flow.
After that, try giving the speech in front of a small dummy audience. Aside from calming your nerves, the audience will also give you feedback on the speech and your performance.
3. FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS:
Everyone has their positives and negatives when it comes to public speaking. You first need to know and accept your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to public speaking. You can’t change who you are, so you need to focus on what you can do best. Never lower your confidence by having self-sabotaging thoughts.
4. ENGAGE WITH THE AUDIENCE:
To make yourself feel less isolated, you need to involve the audience with the message. Asking questions and encouraging the audience to ask are great ways to engage the audience.
5. PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU SPEAK:
It is important to pay attention and listen to yourself as you give the speech. Nervousness could cause you to speak too fast and trip over words and facts. Do not hesitate to slow down and take a deep breath to calm down. Pauses are important to give yourself a chance to gather your thoughts and for the audience to process the information.
6. AVOID READING:
Try to memorize as much of the speech as possible. At the same time, have an outline of your speech on cue cards. By reading word to word scripts, you can easily loose the connection with your audience. Maintaining eye contact keeps the focus on you and your message.
7. BE AWARE OF BODY-LANGUAGE:
Through your body-language, the audience can easily perceive your inner-state. Studies show that using a podium is usually not the best idea. It creates a barrier between the speaker and his/her audience. If possible, it is better to walk around and use gestures to engage the audience.
8. BE FLEXIBLE:
Watch the reactions of the audience and adjust your message accordingly. Know how to regain the focus of the audience especially if the presentation is long.
9. DON’T FILL THE VOIDS:
Instead of grunting, groaning, and other unprofessional signs of weakness, fill the voids in your speech with though filled silence. Those short silences keep the audience focused.
10. WATCH YOUR SPEECHES:
The best way to improve your speaking skills is by watching recordings of yourself giving speeches. Look for areas that you can improve yourself and work on them.