Public Speaking Tips
Mastery of public speaking skills has its own set of benefits and rewards. Your ability to communicate is not only important for your career success but also for your personal growth and happiness. Soft skills, like being able to communicate or persuade others, are fundamental in today’s society, so it is essential that you must develop your communication skills. Like any other life-skill, this particular public speaking skill can be honed, and developed with proper attention and practice.
Whether you are new to public speaking, terrified to talk in front of others, or have experience but want to improve your skills, the following tips will help you improve your communication skills and perfect your public speaking abilities.
Here are the tips that will help get you there in no time.
Practice, More Practice And Practice Again
Practice does not make you perfect but only perfect practice makes perfect.
Practice is the key. Never give a speech cold, especially if you are new to public speaking. So, practice your speech in front of a mirror, or better yet, a camera. Take note of any moments of bad posture or hand gestures and fix accordingly. Pay attention to what your body language is saying and organize your speech in the way you want to deliver it.
Keep It Simple
When you are communicating to the audience, the key is to keep what you are trying to communicate is plain, simple and easy to understand. You don’t need to overwhelm your audience with fancy language or technical jargon unless you are giving an academic talk.
Creating notes will help you plan what you want to say. Make sure that you include all the necessary points you want to use and eliminate anything that is totally unnecessary. When giving a speech your notes will keep you on point throughout and avoid you going blank.
Confidence is a state of mind and it is something that you can create. There are many ways you can increase your self-confidence. Consider using affirmations and visualization on a daily basis or use hypnosis or neuro linguistic programming.
Start Out Small
If you find yourself struggling to communicate effectively during social situations, you can use the FORD technique to help you get a meaningful conversation started. FORD stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams. Using this technique, you’ll no longer have to feel tongue tied when you meet strangers. Start out small with 20 to 30 people, or even less.
Dress Professionally but Comfortably
When you feel confident, you will be confident, and your clothes are one way to help you feel good about yourself.
Just as you should prepare your speech, make sure you prepare your body. Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
Do not drink too much coffee or tea that day, as caffeine can make you more anxious and jittery.
Be sure you have water handy during your speech to keep your mouth from getting dry. Make sure you eat a healthy meal beforehand that is not high in sugar, which can spike your blood glucose and make you feel even worse.
Meditate and Relax
Try to set aside some time before the presentation to use relaxation techniques.You can clear your head of negative thoughts by practicing daily meditation. Meditation is a perfect strategy for overcoming fear and anxiety, whether related to public speaking or someone else. There are many guided meditation apps and websites that can help you get started.
Use Body Language Naturally
Your body can say things that your voice isn’t; including the exact opposite! If you want to ensure that you are giving the right impression and message, then you need to make sure that you stand upright with your head high and shoulders back. Don’t cross your arms as this will put a block between you and the person you are talking to.
Use Eye Contact
Using eye contact correctly can really improve your communication. Your audience will feel a greater connection with you and so listen more intently. Holding attention is a key skill of a great communicator. Remember to be natural and not to stare as that will have a negative impact.
Get the Audience Involved
The more you engage with the audience, the more comfortable you feel with them and so they are with you. This could be in the form of a question/answer session, or it could be an open forum, etc. If you can tie activities that the audience gets involved with, it will be all the better.
Include Yourself In The Audience
If you want to connect with the audience, use more words that include yourself as a part of “them.” Talk about how “we” can solve this problem, how your collective industry is doing something, or how you are all there to learn from each other.
The more you use language that connects you to your listeners, the more likely they are to engage in what you have to say. You are talking with this group, not at them, so do not forget this.
Remember – It Is Normal To Be Nervous
Even people who give speeches all the time still get nervous before a talk, so do not worry so much about being nervous. It is natural, and it will calm down once you start speaking and see the audience react to you. Practice your relaxation techniques, take deep breaths, and remember that you are prepared and have practiced, so you will be just fine!
Focus On Your Speech
When you start to feel nervous, just think about what you want to say and how this is important for your audience.
Do not worry about or over think the audience’s reaction but focus on delivering your talk as best as you possibly can. That is the only thing you can control and all you should worry about.
There are a million reasons besides your speech why someone in the audience may be disengaged or not paying attention. That is not on you, so do not let it distract you from what you came there to say.
Watch Your Pacing
When you are nervous, it is natural to talk more quickly. This is because of the extra adrenaline that is released during stressed as well as a psychological desire to end your ordeal as quickly as possible. Make a deliberate effort to slow your speech, practice this often.
Some people have this fear that, if they stop talking, the audience will stop listening. That simply is not true. You are not on the radio, so “dead air” is not something you should worry about. In fact, pauses can be immensely powerful for drawing attention of your listeners, emphasizing a point, or making a transition. Dramatic pauses tell the audience to pay attention, so learn to use them purposefully in your speech.
Be Aware Of Fillers
One frequent problem with nervous speakers is the use of verbalized pauses, such as “um” or “uh” to fill the void when you don’t know what to say or are getting back on track with your speech. When you say these words a lot, you sound less confident in your topic. While practicing your speech, watch out for these types of fillers, and work to eliminate them from your speech patterns consciously.
Practice Dealing With Distractions
When preparing, be sure you practice with distractions. While the ideal environment would allow you and your audience to focus entirely on your speech, this is not reality.
Try doing your speech with the TV on or when there are children running around. Try to answer a text message while staying on track with your talk. While these are different from what you may encounter during your talk, they show that you can keep talking and deal with distractions or technical problems that may arise.
Stop Worrying About Mistakes
Most people who are afraid of public speaking say that their biggest fear is making a mistake in front of others and embarrassing themselves. If this is you, we are here to tell you that it is okay to stop worrying about this.
First, everyone makes mistakes, and no one in your audience expects you to be perfect
If you make a minor mistake, do not call attention to it. Just keep going with your speech.
For significant errors, use humor to deflect the situation. Acknowledge that you are nervous, take a deep breath, and move on.
When In Doubt, Practice More
You can’t have too much practice when it comes to public speaking. If you really want to improve your skills, get out there and do it more often.
The more you do it, the more natural it will feel, and the less nervous you will be.
Test Your Equipment
Technology is great until it isn’t. Always practice with your technology, if you are using any, and test your equipment at the venue well ahead of your speech. That will give you time to solve any problems.
It is a good idea to have a back-up plan that doesn’t use technology, in case something goes wrong, as well.
Be Sure To Address Questions
Questions and answers are an excellent tool for not only connecting with your audience but also solidifying your argument and credibility. Be sure to leave time in your presentation or talk to address questions from the group, so that you can hear your audience’s ideas and concerns.
After your speech is over, it can be beneficial to hear feedback from audience members.
Find someone you think will give you an honest assessment and ask for their feedback. Tell them you are looking for honest advice so that you can improve their skills. Ask them specifically what they liked and three areas where you can improve.
Be sure you use this information in preparing for your next talk. Constructive criticism can help you improve if you are willing to hear what people have to say.
Reflect And Learn From Each Speech
After you have finished a presentation or talk, take some time to reflect on what went well and what you can learn for next time. If there is a video of your speech, watch it while taking notes.
Where did you feel awkward or confident? How did you handle stumbles or mistakes? Use this information to help you practice for your next speech and learn from each public speaking experience.
Take A Class
If you are really new to or nervous about public speaking, take a class. There are many free, online courses available on this topic, and getting help and support from a mentor can help you gain the skills and confidence you need.