Most potential public speakers would opt for oral surgery over the prospect of giving a presentation. However, public speaking becomes a part of everyone’s life sooner or later. Good public speaking skills are highly valued in our society. They can help you to gain respect or even a promotion.
Since most people shy away from the opportunity to speak publicly, there’s not a lot of competition. A little practice can go a long way.
Use these strategies to enhance your presentations:
1. Video record yourself. Instead of practicing in front of your family and friends, use a camera, iPad, or other video recording device. Most cell phones have excellent recording capabilities for this purpose.
- Pay attention to your voice, body language, and gestures. Are you keeping your head up or are you staring down at your notes?
2. Over prepare. The most effective way to increase your confidence is to know the material 100%. While very experienced speakers can give a high-quality extemporaneous speech, you’ll benefit greatly from extensive practice.
- Avoid practicing too much in a single session. Ideally, you can spread your practice over several days.
3. Find a smiling face. You might feel tempted to attempt to win over the person texting on their phone, but you’ll lose that battle 9 times out of 10. Instead, speak to that smiling, nodding, agreeable face that’s paying attention to your every word. You’ll feel more relaxed and confident.
4. Keep your audience in mind. You might have a PhD in astrophysics, but if you’re speaking to your son’s 4th grade class about the solar system, it will be necessary to tone it down. Make your message relevant to your crowd.
5. Start with a script. Begin with a literal, word for word script. As you learn the information and begin to remember more, move away from the script and rely on your memory.
- Once you know the information inside and out, you can give your final speech with just a few, bullet-point notes.
6. Avoid caffeine. You’ll probably be plenty stimulated from the knowledge that you need to give a presentation. There’s little reason to stimulate yourself further by having a few cups of coffee beforehand.
7. Slow down. If your speech is the proper length for your allotted time, avoid rushing. It’s not a race.
- It makes your audience uncomfortable when you speak in a rushed manner. You’ll also run out of breath and be more difficult to understand.
- Allow for natural pauses. Speak at a comfortable pace and everyone benefits.
8. Begin with the purpose in mind. What is the purpose of your presentation? Is it to inform, persuade, or entertain?
- When your presentation is over, what thoughts should be running through the mind of your audience?
9. Be yourself. This is challenging, but necessary. Before you can sell your message, it’s necessary to sell yourself. The best way to sell yourself is to be authentic. Have the courage to be yourself. People believe what you say when they believe in you.
10. Be present before your presentation begins. It’s easy for your mind to run wild before you speak. Keep your attention focused on your surroundings. Try to find all the people with red hair or those wearing the color blue. Listen to the sounds in the room.
Public speaking can provoke anxiety, but it’s an important skill to master. Public speaking skills are prized in the workplace and impact your ability to influence others. Make an effort to master the ability to speak to a group. Join a local Toastmasters group and practice, practice, practice. You’ll be glad you did!