If you’re not a big fan of public speaking then you’re not alone – a 2013 survey found that fear of public speaking is a more pressing concern than death for many people. However, public speaking can also be a great way to communicate ideas and information and may be an essential part of your job. Even if you’re not a big fan of doing it there are lots of ways that you can improve your public speaking skills.
Allow yourself to be nervous
Sweaty palms, a fast heart rate – these signs of anxiety are all completely normal when you’re getting ready to speak in front of people. The key is not to let yourself believe that nervousness means you won’t be any good. Instead, allow the nervousness and focus on preparing as much as you can.
Create a strong structure
Start with something that will grab the attention of the audience in the first 20 seconds. Identify your main topic and both the general and specific points that you want to ensure that you cover.
Focus on your audience
. The talk you’re about to give is actually more about them than you. Prepare with this in mind, structuring the message and content to ensure that you communicate effectively with the people in the room.
Learn to adapt as you speak
Your audience will subconsciously (or consciously) give you feedback as you’re delivering your talk or speech and this can be helpful when it comes to improving its effectiveness. If you’re losing their attention, change direction, if you’re getting a lot of interest on a particular topic, develop it. It’s important to stay flexible when you’re speaking so that your talk can evolve alongside the reactions of the audience.
. There is nothing more engaging than someone who is allowing their personality to provide the context for a speech or talk. If you’re ‘real’ and authentic then your audience will be far better engaged with what you’re saying. Show some passion and enthusiasm for what you’re talking about and you’ll take the entire room along with you – and don’t be afraid to use humour.
Don’t use a script
Reading your speech or talk will result in something less than engaging, as you’ll spend most of your time looking down at the page. Instead, give yourself an outline structure to work from and make sure you know the topic inside out. Maintain positive eye contact with your audience and don’t be afraid to pause if you need to find your way back to a specific point.
Avoid too many distractions
Media and visuals can be very useful but use them sparingly so that your words are the main focus for your listening audience. Try to eliminate any other distractions, such as over using your hands or succumbing to lots of nervous gestures.
Don’t forget the conclusion
You might be so relieved that it’s over that you just want to get out of the room but the conclusion is what you leave your audience with. It’s as important to make sure this is meaningful as to have a strong opening line.
Public speaking may feel like a nightmare but it’s actually a great opportunity to make an impression and get a point across. These tips will help you to make progress in tackling what most people consider to be a key, but challenging, skill to acquire.
Our Public Speaking training course is designed to teach delegates how their confidence, enthusiasm and professionalism are demonstrated by the way you look and speak.