Speaking in public can admittedly be a fairly scary task for many people. It’s no secret that a large part of the population feels a certain degree of fear or anxiety when being the center of attention. This can easily keep most of us out of the spotlight. This anxiety can be problematic, especially if you’re ever called upon to deliver a speech to your peers.
Nevertheless, whether you have serious stage fright or you simply struggle with speaking difficulties, you shouldn’t let it hold you back from engaging with the public. Nearly 75% of us struggle with some degree of “glossophobia” — that is, the fear of public speaking. But it doesn’t have to keep you from becoming a capable public speaker.
With time and practice, as well as a little bit of self-confidence, you can also join the ranks of those who can address the public without hesitation. And whether you need to deliver a speech to your local PTA group or learning how to speak publicly is just one of your New Year’s resolutions, take heart. With these six tips, you’ll be able to master this valuable skill in no time!
Maintain a Relaxed Body Language
You should keep in mind that most communication between people is actually non-verbal. That is, it’s your body language that will be more the center of attention during your speech, rather than the words themselves. Your audience will notice your posture, your facial expressions, and even the tone of your voice before they hear any embarrassing slips of the tongue.
For this reason, you should maintain a natural and comfortable posture along with a pleasant expression. You’ll also want to speak with a moderate tone of voice, not getting too quiet or too loud. However, to avoid losing the audience’s attention, you should also keep the presentation dynamic. That is, you’ll want to avoid repeating phrases or gestures, as they tend to get boring easily.
Instead, you can change up your posture, use bold hand gestures or facial expressions, change the tone of voice and your vocal rhythm, and even move around the stage (if possible). By doing so, you can help keep the audience interested and focused on you at all times, without worrying about their eyes glazing over during your speech.
Deliver Your Message In a Simple Way
It’s important that you convey your message in a way that anyone can understand, rather than resorting to lofty terms or overly complicated language. Even if you’re an expert on a subject, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your audience will be, too. By getting overly technical, you may find yourself alienating your audience.
To determine the best way to deliver your message, it’s best to think that everyone in your audience is unfamiliar with the topic at hand. Don’t be patronizing or insulting, though, or try to “dumb it down” too much. Rather, try to keep it as light and easy as possible when giving your speech. In addition, you should avoid trying to cover large amounts of information. Also, avoid including details in your speech that the audience will likely not remember.
Don’t Memorize Your Speech
One of the most common mistakes many novice speakers make is trying to memorize their entire speech as if it were a script. This type of strategy has many disadvantages, and it can backfire terribly. For example, if you’re trying to deliver it by memory, the presentation can feel inorganic. Inevitably, your audience will get restless.
Another risk of trying to memorize your speech is getting hung up on a certain word, especially if you forget something. Many people have been horrified to realize that they had blanked on just one phrase or word, causing all subsequent information to be forgotten. It’s absolutely fine to have little cue cards in front of you to prompt you. Don’t be afraid to take them with you to the stage.
Instead, the best strategy is to have one main idea in mind. Just move with it naturally. The audience will feel more comfortable and interested. It’s the perfect opportunity to show your passion for the topic you are sharing with them.
Connect with Your Audience
By connecting with your audience, you can better establish strong communication. You can also make sure that the message is being conveyed to them in the right way. To achieve this, you can have a point of interaction in your presentation to keep your audience engaged. For example, you can ask questions to your audience, and give them a chance to respond.
This can help keep them attentive and interested in what you’re saying to them. Another effective way that you can connect with your audience on a personal level is through stories and experiences. When you link the topic to something that your audience can identify with, you’ll not only get more attention from them, but you’ll come across as more charismatic, too.
Prepare and Record Yourself While You Practice
It’s no secret that practice makes perfect. As such, it’s important that you rehearse your speech beforehand. This can help you become familiar with it. It will also help you find a way to express it in an appropriate and professional way.
You can also try and record yourself while doing it. You don’t need a fancy setup, either. Just hit play on the video recorder on your smartphone, then review the recording with a fair but critical eye. When you see yourself in the video, you can put yourself in the audience’s place. You can then finalize any details, expressions, and gestures that you don’t feel appropriate within the presentation.
Make Sure to Enunciate and Speak Clearly
Most of these tips help you through the process of presenting in front of an audience. However, there are other factors that you may have to consider before giving a speech. For instance, there’s a large percentage of the population that has difficulties when it comes to speaking and expressing themselves adequately. If you are part of this percentage, you should consider speech therapy for adults. This can help you gain confidence while also learning how to properly articulate your thoughts.
Whether you have a huge speech to give in front of your coworkers or you simply want to say a few words at a friend’s wedding, mastering the art of public speaking is an invaluable skill to learn. Not only will it boost your confidence, but it can also help you grow as a person. By following these six tips, you’ll be an unstoppable speaking force to be reckoned with, no matter who you’re talking to!
Tips provided by Anne Davis.