Want to kick-start your influence with audiences and have fun doing it? Try these 14 easy public speaking tips!
Looking to promote a business? Land a job? Inspire followers? Gain visibility for yourself or your organization? The one attribute you need in all of these situations is excellent communication skills. Frequently, this means proficiency in public speaking.
It should also mean enjoying yourself more when you speak and gaining a world of confidence.
Think you don't have enough presence and charisma when you deliver a speech or presentation? You can learn how to boost your credibility while maximizing your natural talents! Download my essential ebook for speaking at your best in all professional situations, "12 Easy Ways to Achieve Presence and Charisma."
The Good News About Improved Public Speaking
The really terrific news is that you don't need to suddenly become an "excellent" speaker. Your task is always to deliver a message to people who will benefit from hearing it, and to enjoy yourself in the process. It's as simple as that.
So here are 14 easy ways to kick-start your public speaking and presentations. Some of them come straight from theatrical techniques for business training, and they will all make you a more effective speaker. But don't take our word: practice them, then try them out in talks. You might just achieve a dramatic difference in your on-stage presence and impact.
14 Ways to Kick-Start Your Presentations
- Pretend you're talking to just one person. You're not really standing in front of an audience. You're talking to one person, each in turn as you speak to that individual. The art of the conversation is what you're looking for. "Talking to one person" makes it personal.
- Make an entrance. Actors excite audiences through the energy and uber-focus they bring on stage with them. Why shouldn't you? Your speech begins when you enter the room, not when you open your mouth. Have fun with your entrance! Become familar with the body language messages you may be broadcasting (and learn the 5 body language errors that will sink your presentation). Be creative, and yes, a little bold with your entrance.
- Discuss something you're passionate about. You don't need to be the world's foremost expert, but you should have an abundance of passion for your topic. Haven't you noticed how hard it is not to listen to someone who's speaking passionately?
- Save time for Q & A. In Dr. Genard's book How to Give a Speech, he calls Q & A "The forgotten avenue to audience persuasion." Anybody can deliver a presentation. But the speaker who can respond in Q & A with style, knowledge, and grace is the one who really shines. Become familiar with the 7 danger zones of Q & A so you can handle yourself.
- Work with a speech coach. A speech coach can help you not only in areas of weakness you know about, but with other important aspects of how an audience perceives you. It's impossible for you to experience yourself from the outside. Actors don’t work without a director. Seek out a coach who will care about your professional development.
- Incorporate purposeful movement into your talks. It's a good idea to move before your next main point, not on it. Actors know, for instance, not to muddy a dramatic moment by splitting the audience's focus between what they're doing and what they're saying. Start thinking about movements that are linked with the main segments of your talks.
- Give your audience less. You've heard the phrase "less is more." There's hardly a rule in acting that has more importance. Too many speakers meander or give their audiences too much information. Voltaire: "The easiest way to bore someone is to tell them all you know."
- Have fun! Now there's a radical concept in public speaking! Be excited and enthusiastic, and your passion will be contagious. When listeners see you enjoying yourself, it's infectious. Whatever your topic, they'll want to learn more about it.
- Think strategically. Information in service of a clear purpose and objective is engrossing. Use a grabber at the start that hooks your audience, and familiarize yourself with the 12 foolproof ways to open a speech. Think about the shape of your presentation and where the climax should come. And deliver ideas in the order that will help listeners retain them.
- Develop your vocal expressiveness. As actors performing voice-overs, we both learned the 3 P’s: pitch, pause, and punch. Your vocal delivery can be a beautiful mountain range or a flat plateau. Here are 4 ways to achieve vocal power. If you speak in a monotone, they'll be thinking about doing their laundry when they get home.
- Make it conversational. People want to be talked to, not talked at. Too many speakers give a Speech-with-a-capital-S or a Presentation-with-a-capital-P. Performances like that sound stilted and artificial. Videotape yourself. Do you sound human or wooden?
- Tell stories. Who doesn't love a good story? Stories enchant people ("Once upon a time") because they're about people and their challenges. If you tend to speak hypothetically or with too many generalities, bring in stories so your talk AND your audience will come to life. Here are 4 classic formats for organizing a presentation, including stories.
- Be vulnerable. Share something about yourself. Speakers often think they can't interject themselves into their talks. Yet audiences find it hard to relate to such speakers. Let them see the real you, because the chances are good that they'll like what they experience.
- Give your audience an emotional gem. Sure, you're good on the information you want listeners to take away. But how do you want them to feel? Audiences won't remember the facts and figures you throw at them; but they'll remember their emotional response. Instead of turning on the fire hose of data, hand each listener an emotional jewel or two.
Gary Genard is the founder of The Genard Method. Jeannie Lindheim is the author of Trusting the Moment: Unlocking Your Creativity and Imagination. (Satya House, 2011), which is available in our website store.
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