According to numerous studies, many people suffer with a phobia of public speaking. If you can relate then you probably experience heart palpitations and sweaty palms every time you have to say a speech. But don’t despair there are tools and techniques you could use which make public speaking less daunting.
Learning to be an effective speaker is important because you may find yourself in a leadership role one day. You’ll be expected to be able to deliver motivational speeches and positively influence your team. And if you lack confidence when giving presentations you won’t win the crowd.
Here are a few ways to improve your public speaking skills.
Don’t just wing it
If you don’t prepare, you’re bound to fail. You need to rehearse your speech before you say it in front of your audience. Plan everything you’re going to say and practise in front of a mirror. Going over your speech before you have to say it, will make you feel prepared and more in control. If you wait until the last minute to practise your speech your audience will know and you’ll feel embarrassed. Fumbling through your notes and sweating through your clothes won’t inspire confidence from others watching.
Watch other people
Watch videos on YouTube and learn from the greatest public speakers. You could learn their techniques on how to engage with the crowd, their mannerisms and the way they pace their speech. But be careful you don’t end up mimicking them. The audience will be able to pick up on the fact that you’re using a style which isn’t authentic.
Clint Eastwood, a legendary actor and director, was quoted as saying, “It’s not about you, it’s about them.” Make sure the topic you choose to speak on is relevant to the people listening. Do your homework on your audience beforehand. Your audience will be more likely to hang on every word you say if your speech caters to their needs and desires.
Add a bit of humour to your presentation. Most people like to laugh and if you include a couple of jokes it could lessen the tension in the room and help you relax. Make sure the joke you make is in connection with the topic at hand.
Short and sweet
Make your speech short and straightforward and don’t take too long when presenting otherwise you could lose your audience. Most people have a low attention span. Your audience is constantly talking to you throughout your speech through their body language. Pay attention to what they’re conveying. If you see people starting to become distracted by fiddling with their phones or staring out the window you may want to wind up your speech.
Make sure your body language is engaging and comfortable. If you fold your arms across your chests or you speak with your head down the audience will be able to pick up on your nerves and may not be receptive to you. Use your body language to convey a message of ease, comfort and openness.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Which is why you should add visual aids to your presentation so it becomes more interesting. Whether you use graphs, illustrations or a powerpoint presentation, a visual aid is always a great tool to make your presentation stand out.
Engage with your audience
Make sure you include the audience in your presentation. Whether you have a Q and A session at the end of your speech or you ask them a few questions throughout the presentation make sure you create something interactive. Just make sure you listen to the entire question carefully in order to give the best answer.
People can pick up when you’re not being authentic and are trying to be someone else. When you present your speech don’t be phony. Talk to the audience like you would to anyone in a normal conversation in order for it to come across as natural as possible. Avoid using big words which your audience might not understand.
Looking at your audience in the eye can be nerve-wracking but it’s important to maintain eye contact to effectively engage them. Making eye contact makes your audience feel important and helps establish a connection with them.
When people are nervous they tend to speak quickly and rush through their speeches. Slow down your speech so everyone can hear you and they won’t miss any of your points. Use more pauses in your speech so your audience can understand what you’re trying to say.
The more you’re aware of your faults the more you’ll be able to improve on yourself. Record yourself saying your speech so you can hear all your mistakes. Listening to yourself may cringe worthy but it’ll help you see what you’re doing wrong.
Whether you have to do a presentation for a Sales and Marketing course or you have to speak at your graduation party, it’s important to learn to be an effective public speaker. Learn different techniques and tools to improve your communication style and who knows you, might end up getting a standing ovation.