Public speaking isn’t for everyone. Those who haven’t overcome their high school stage fright probably don’t have plans to do so at the next company orientation meeting where they’ve been selected to talk about the recent company merger! Public speaking is that fun class that you hated to take, but needed to finish in order to get your English credits in college. After that, well, the rest was up to you to get the skills and experience you might need.
Even though you may avoid it, gaining strength in public speaking is an asset that can help in both a career and social setting. Your self-confidence is immediately boosted when you are able to connect with your audience, no matter how large or small. If you’re having trouble with an upcoming speech, don’t know where to start, or just need to fine-tune your skills, try out some of these public speaking tips that actually work!
1. Record your voice. The pitch and tone of your voice are more important than you realize. Have you ever noticed how effective a strong, consistent, and clear voice can be when you’re listening to a formal presentation? Recording your voice and noticing its peaks and valleys will help you hear first hand where you might need some improvement.
2. Don’t be a walking thesaurus. People like strong words, definitions, and industry-related keywords, even clichÃ?Â©s. Avoid the trap of being ‘too’ word-specific; you want to maintain a level of conversational style in your speech, and don’t want to end up fumbling over technical words and sentences just because they sounded good on paper.
3. Learn to make balanced eye contact. Don’t focus on just one person or group; you’ll alienate the rest of the audience. Even though you’ll likely see familiar faces in the crowd, be sure to ‘scan’ and move around the crowd for a balanced delivery of your message.
4. Make them like you! Smiling is the first step to creating that connection, but overdoing it will only make you seem like a fake salesperson. Instead, focus on the topic, and introduce new topics as if you are part of a discussion. You’ll smile when they smile, acknowledging their understanding and leading the way.
5. Squash those nerves! If you emphasize or highlight your nervousness, you’ll lose the critical message. Focus on the message and your audience, and your nervousness will easily disappear. Conversing naturally is a very easy way to remove that gut feeling of fear; remember that nervousness is just a response, and can be easily diminished with deep and confident breathing.
6. Stick to the point. Leave the drama and details of the topic itself for a conversation or post-speech meeting. The core idea in your presentation needs to be delivered concisely, efficiently, and almost like prose. You want to grab the audience’s attention, but only have a very limited window of opportunity to send them the essence of your message.
7. Use props. In today’s multimedia age, the opportunities are endless for incorporating slideshows, handouts, live presentations, and product demonstrations. Enlivening and enaging your audience is a great way to ensure they are listening to you!
8. Move around. The power of intention is greatly expressed if you can move about and ‘walk’ through your ideas. It makes both you and the audience much more comfortable.
These are just eight effective ways to improve or enhance your public speaking skills. Public speaking is a developed skill, and fears can only be diminished with practice and increasing confidence. The more you do it, the better you will get. You can learn to read an audience, change your style, and adapt to the tone of the topic for the most effective message delivery. Turning nervous energy into a constructive speech is probably the best secret of effective public speaking; it really does give you that edge and spark to make your presentation a success!