- Business and Employment
5 Effective Public Speaking Tips
What are the words that we associate with public speaking? Fear, sweat, faster heartbeat, audience laughing at the lack of your knowledge.
Many times in life, at a business conference, or a family reunion, you will face with this challenge.
No matter, how scary it seems, as any skill, it can be mastered.
Here are 5 public speaking tips that will help you out in your future public speeches.
1. Practice creates confidence
Everyone knows that Practice makes perfect.
Without preparation, we might become stuck in the moment and lose our focus.
Practicing provides us with good answers to "What if" scenarios.
Bear Grylls, who is known for famous television show, Man vs. Wild, said that he doesn't reject fear. He uses it to understand what he needs to do in order to avoid the bad result.
It's a good idea to practice our speech in front of a mirror, because we can follow our movements and face expressions.
We admire athletes who break the record in sports, but often forget that behind that are hours and hours of practicing and training.
Practicing your speech will boost your confidence and it will allow you to manage your anxiety.
2. First impression
Energy / passion is an essential part of the public speech. If you are an expert, but your tone is dull and doesn't have highs and lows (at certain times), your knowledge won't be interesting to the audience.
If you have something valuable to share, you have to show that you believe in it. If you fail to show that, the audience won't remember the speech.
Public speaking is similar to writing an article, people will pay attention at the beginning of the article / presentation / speech. That's why journalists often use catchy headlines. By doing so, they pull you into the story.
One of the best way to catch attention is to start your presentation with a question. After that, you take your audience on a journey to the answer/idea/benefit. You are trying to initiate the "A-ha" moment.
Unusual pictures that can tell your story in a different way are also an amazing tool to engage the audience and to make it remember your message.
Knowledge is power and enthusiasm pulls the switch.— Steve Droke
- Humor - It's one of the essential part of public speaking, but in a balanced amount . Injecting humor into our presentation is like adding a spice to the meal. If we add too much spice, it will spoil the whole meal.
How to know is our joke funny? We can tell it to our friends or colleagues before telling it on the podium. However, we should be aware of the cultural background of the audience. Some jokes aren't funny in different cultural environments.
- Stories - People like to hear stories, especially personal stories.
That's why we should figure out the way to tell our presentation as a story that has problem in the beginning, journey in the middle and a resolution at the end in the form of conclusion / key message for your audience.
That way, people will understand how they benefit from our speech. We shouldn't wander off with stories that are irrelevant to our presentation. Instead, we should find stories that will support and describe our message better.
- Activities - By choosing someone as an assistant from the audience or by playing certain games, or even just by giving people some task like writing something down (like a dream, goal, habit etc.), that will cause engagement.
- Repeating - In cases when our presentation / speech is long, people usually cannot hold their attention for the entire time. Instead they will be focused on your speech at the start, in the middle and at the end. That's why repeating the key message at those times (without exaggerating) is important.
Aristotle summarized this and almost all presentations in three simple lines.
Tell them what you are going to tell them.
You tell them.
Tell them what you told them.
First, we introduce the core message, then we explain it more in detail, and then tell them why is it important for them.
Body language - Looking at the presentation only, turning your back, avoiding the eye contact will disengage your audience.
If you can, visit the venue where your public speaking skills will be tested, and get familiar with the environment, position of lights. If you have a chance, try out your speech there or if you cannot do that, test your skills in front of your friends or family.
If you want to establish connection / rapport, focus on three / four or even more people in different parts of the audience and imagine that they are your friends.
That point of view will make you more confident and relaxed, than thinking that you are speaking in front of an unknown crowd.
Some people can get stuck in the moment during the presentation. We can lose our focus and be owerflown and defeated by our anxiety. Having the right attitude towards public speaking can save us from experiencing this.
We need to be aware that audience consists of people like us. There might be experts in the audience, but we need to understand that those experts would have similar problems in our situation.
We shouldn't look at the audience as people with super skills and unerring. They deal with same problems as you do, paying the bills, finishing projects before the deadline and also being nervous when speaking in front of a crowd.
What is the best technique that engages the audience the most?
Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.— Jim Rohn
4. Effective communication / Q&A session
Maybe this is the toughest part of public speaking. Q&A session is the last obstacle on our way to get a trophy for a great speech.
We are afraid that we might be asked a question that we aren't prepared for. One of the best ways to open our Q&A session is by saying: "What questions do you have?" instead of saying: "Do you have any questions?".
By doing that, we will be more approachable and less distant.
When answering a question, you should paraphrase the question, so everyone can hear it. That, also gives you time to structure your answer.
Of course, they might be people who will intentionally ask you provocative questions or who will be in a bad mood.
Losing control over your anxiety in those situations won't do you any good. Acknowledging the concern that the interrogator might have regarding your company, products or prices is important. You can do this by saying: "I understand your concern regarding our increase in prices.." and then answer the question.
When we don't know the answer, it is important to say we don't know and not to mislead the audience. We can say that we will answer the question over email / social media account or by call, after consultation with other colleagues or relevant experts on that subject.
Say what you mean, but don't say it mean.— marriage counselor
Slides shouldn't be stuffed with text. Pictures are powerful and they say 1000 words.
Regarding structuring your presentation, there is a famous rule by renowned author and evangelist Guy Kawasaki 10-20-30 which stands for 10 slides, twenty minutes and 30-point font.
What happens when two people are talking with the third person at the same time? Will that person understand anything? Probably not, unless she/he has superpowers. That's what happens when you have a lot of text on your slides and you talk about something related to that slide.
The audience might focus on the slide and lose what we say. Slides shouldn't take over our speech, they need to support it with pictures and little text.
Regarding microphone, lights, and related equipment, we should check all that before starting a speech. We can talk to the person that is in charge for it before our speech, just to be sure that all is set up.
- Practice and accept your fear as an advisor, who informs you what has to be done in order to avoid bad impression during public speaking.
- Tell stories, initiate activities and be humourous (if possible)
- You tell them what you are going to tell them. You tell them.
Tell them what you told them. - Aristotle
- The audience is your friend. It isn't consisted of super people. Those people also have similar problems like you do. It's ok to make a mistake. Make eye contact and don't read the slides.
- Don't let your slides interfere with your talking. They are supporters, not leaders.