Better Public Speaking
Become a confident and compelling public speaker.
We all have to speak in front of an audience occasionally. We might be training co-workers, giving a presentation to customers or speaking at a conference.
How well we perform affects people's opinion of us, so we can feel afraid that we'll fail. But public speaking is a learnable skill just like any other. Follow our tips and you, too, can become a confident and compelling speaker.
First and foremost, engage your audience members. Hook them from the outset by starting with an interesting fact, a challenging question, or an intriguing statement. Encourage your audience to participate by asking a question that gets people thinking and that's hard not to respond to. For example, one that begins: "How many of you...?" may get your audience members nodding or even raising their hands.
It can be tempting to read your notes word for word, to be sure of covering everything correctly. But this will cut you off from your audience. Instead, list important points on cue cards and only refer to them if you have to. Your audience will also more likely warm to you if you talk naturally, as if you're addressing one person, not a crowd. But this takes practice.
Rehearse plenty of times so that you can talk fluently. Then do a practice run in front of a small, supportive audience and ask for feedback. And record or film your sessions so you can see your strengths and weaknesses for yourself, and hone your skills.
Before you deliver your speech, get yourself into the right mindset by thinking positively. Banish any negative self-talk by using affirmations. Visualize yourself giving a successful speech.
A natural reaction to the fear of public speaking is the flight, fight or freeze response. But you can lessen its hold on you. Focus on what your audience is going to gain from your talk, rather than on how you're feeling. And take slow, deep breaths before you begin. Be aware that nerves might make you talk too quickly, so force yourself to slow down.
Don't be afraid to pause and gather your thoughts. You'll appear more relaxed and confident by not charging on in a panic. You'll look particularly confident if you're standing up straight, looking people in the eye, and smiling!
The more you speak in front of others, the better you'll be at it, so be sure to take up opportunities to deliver presentations or address meetings rather than avoiding them. If you do, you'll likely enhance your reputation, and you could even earn yourself recognition or a promotion!
For more information and tips about Better Public Speaking, see the article that accompanies this video.