Public speaking is a bane for many. It is seen as something only professors, celebrities, or very important people do. It’s no wonder a lot of people are daunted by the thought of having to do it. Still, it is an important skill to learn. If you are in a position where it is inevitable to speak in front of a crowd, you might want to learn a few tips to improve your public speaking skills like the ones below:
1. Preparation plus practice equals success.
There is no such thing as a perfectly flawless speech. However, if you were able to convey a message clearly and made an impact on your audience, you have pretty much hit the nail on the head in terms of delivering a successful speech. You can achieve this through diligent preparation and practice.
Make a general flow of your entire speech, take notes, and practice delivering it in front of a mirror or record yourself in a video. Have a friend review your performance and ask for feedback on what needs to be improved. You can also seek inspiration from watching other great and relatable speakers to find out how they craft their speeches.
2. Do a quick background on your audience.
Before drafting your speech, try to think of how much you know about your audience. What do they want to hear from you? How would they appreciate your speech? Figure out what it is they need from your speech and supply accordingly.
When developing your opening statements, try to relate to the audience. Give them a reason to listen to you. Knowing your audience allows you to adjust your delivery and know what information and terminologies you should and should not include in your speech.
3. Acclimate to your stage.
Another big factor in preparing for public speaking is your stage or venue. If you usually get bad jitters when speaking on public, you can minimize it by adapting to the environment you will be speaking at in advance. Visit the venue. If you can, step up on the stage and give it a good feel. Breathe in the scent of the place and envision your audience in front of you. This way, you will have less reason to get rattled on the day since you are already at a familiar place.
4. Dress for success.
One of the best confidence boosters is looking good and feeling great about how you look. You can create an entire persona of your preference by altering your attire. You can also control the first impressions of you based on your appearance. Want to be seen as someone who is highly professional and knows expert opinion? Try a crisp suit and maybe some spectacles. Whereas if you want to come off as laid-back and someone whom everyone can relate and laugh with, something more casual may be in order.
5. Put YOUR best foot forward.
Have a strong sense of self-awareness. Take note of your strengths and weaknesses as a speaker and capitalize on the former during your performance. There will be a lot of time to improve your weaknesses while you are not speaking, but forcing yourself to overcome them while you are in the middle of a gig will only make you come off as trying too hard.
Put out your best work, but at the same time, don’t try to be anyone else but yourself. Be your best self, and let your personality shine through your well-practiced statements. This establishes your credibility as a speaker and allows the audience to relate to you as a person and not just as a resource.
6. Use nonverbal communication.
Your facial expressions add power and efficacy to your words. The same goes for hand gestures and body language, such as how you stand or position yourself during the delivery of your speech. On top of that, studies show that smiling has a positive psychological impact. Even a fake smile can make people happier and feel more at ease. Feeling relaxed can help lessen the stress and jitters of public speaking and even boost your self-confidence.
7. Tell a story.
A story is one of those things a speaker could do to capture an audience’s interest and attention. It helps everyone settle into the discussion and allows the listener to relate to the speaker better. Stories are filled with examples and realizations that people are often eager to pick up on. You can get your audience to invest further in your speech by touching them at an emotional level. Also, a story at the beginning gives you a great opportunity to wrap up the speech with an afterthought to create a more meaningful impact.
8. Enlist the help of props.
Many speakers now make use of PowerPoint presentations to add appeal and maintain the attention of their listeners. Studies show that visual aids are helpful in the teaching-learning process. They arouse the interest of listeners and allow teachers to convey messages with ease. The same is true for speeches, especially if you are conveying new and unfamiliar information. Luckily, technology has made such resources readily available. Most venues have a ready projector or screen to accommodate visual material that speakers may bring.
9. Pass the bucket.
Just because you are the designated speaker does not mean you need to be the one to speak 100% of the time. It is usually more productive and memorable if you include a portion or several little instances within your speech that engage your audience to speak up as well. Encourage questions and solicit feedback. This way, you won’t feel the weight of the entire event resting on your shoulders since the audience will be helping out to complete the speech as well.
10. Get some quiet time.
Public speaking can be tiring and strenuous. If you are not the outgoing type of person, it might take a toll on you and drain your energy quite fast. Taking some time alone before the speaking engagement will clear your head of any unnecessary distractions and allow you to focus on the task ahead. If you feel too drained out after speaking to the crowd, you can also take a moment to yourself afterward just to recharge and get your balance back.