No matter where they are in their career, anyone can benefit from improving their public speaking skills. Particularly if you are looking to hold a position in leadership someday, being an effective public speaker is a necessity. Even if you aren’t giving formal speeches and presentations, improving your public speaking skills can help you communicate more effectively in team meetings, deliver better sales pitches to clients, or make it easier to train other team members on the job. While many people fear the idea of public speaking, anyone is capable of being an effective public speaker, if they approach it in the proper manner. Here are some tips to help you improve your public speaking skills:
1) Prepare and Practice
To effectively deliver a speech or presentation to any audience, you need to be thoroughly prepared, and rehearse it beforehand. Not only do you need to be clear on the message you are trying to deliver and the points you want to make, but you will also feel more confident knowing that you are fully prepared. When you start preparing, focus on the purpose you are trying to accomplish. Are you trying to inform the audience on a certain topic? Do you want to persuade a group of people on a particular issue? And while you want to be prepared, it’s better to focus more on the key points you are trying to deliver, instead of memorizing your speech word for word. This will make you sound more natural in your delivery when speaking, and will also make it easier if you do have a moment where you slip up and forget. You want to stick to the general points you are trying to make, while at the same time allowing a little flexibility to improvise a little so you don’t seem too rigid.
2) Keep it simple
Resist the urge to include too many details and pieces of knowledge on the topic you are speaking on. Human beings are only capable of listening to and absorbing so much information and you want to make sure that the points you deliver in your speech are the most resounding. Sit down and think about what pieces of information will make the most impact on your audience, and what they will find the most interesting. By trying to fill their heads with too much information, the resonance of the entire message you wanted to present could backfire.
3) Ease your nerves and build your confidence
It is extremely important you remain positive while preparing and giving your speech or presentation. Any negative self-talk could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Remind yourself of why you were chosen to give the speech, the knowledge that you are excited to share with others, and accomplishments you have had in the past. While you are preparing, do your best to keep the focus on your audience and how you would like your presentation to help them. This will help take the focus off of yourself, and calm your nerves. Also, meditation and deep breathing exercises before you deliver the speech can go a long way to help put you in the right mindset for effective public speaking.
4) Connect with your audience
To be a more effective public speaker, talk to some members of your audience before your public speaking engagement if possible. This could give you a better idea of what they would respond to best, and you could use takeaways from your conversations with them to include in your speech. Avoid seeming arrogant or self-righteous while public speaking; this will turn off your audience. Instead, try to incorporate humor and personal stories (this will also make the presentation a whole lot easier and comfortable for you). Finally, if you use slides and visuals, only use them sparingly and for the purpose of complementing your message. Include some funny and eye-catching videos or illustrations to help drive home your message and get the audience’s attention. But too many PowerPoint slides will bore your audience, and relying too much on visuals can create major problems if you encounter any technological issues during your public speaking engagement.
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