Public Speaking Tips To Help You Shine
Have you ever found yourself facing a room of people, full of nervousness about how to address them and hold their attention? If you’re like most of us, you probably experience at least a few rushes of public-speaking jitters when you have to talk in front of a crowd. Here are some tips to make your next public-speaking occasion as effective and anxiety-free as possible:
Know Your Material
This is perhaps the most central key to effectively addressing a group of people. If you have any doubts about the material at hand or any uncertainties about your own grasp of it, your level of anxiety will be high – and, of course, the more nervous and lacking in confidence you are, the more likely you are to come across as a weak and ineffectual public speaker. So it is crucially important to review your material extensively and practice your presentation as thoroughly as possible so that you can walk in the room relaxed and confident in the conviction that you know your stuff.
Know Your Audience
Before you prepare your presentation, make sure you know your audience. Have a strong grasp of their interests and their reasons for being attendance at your public speaking occasion. Also make sure you keep in mind the general tone of the event and group of people – is it an informal talk to a bunch of people with similar interests, a serious and formal business presentation, or a presentation for a crowd who will want there to be a high entertainment factor? When it comes to the topic you’re addressing, will you be speaking to a group of specialists on that topic or non-specialists without much background in the area? Knowing as much as you can about the audience will help you design a presentation effectively geared toward them.
Be Conscious of Speed
One of the biggest mistakes that novice public speakers do is talk at a very rapid pace. This quickness can come from nervousness or just from a sense that there isn’t enough time to fit in all the necessary information. So it is important to make sure you slow down when speaking, giving your audience time to absorb what you have said (and also giving note-takers a chance to write things down). Along those same lines, make sure you have designed your presentation so that you’re not trying to squeeze too much information into too short an amount of time. Practice it several times and restructure it or cut out sections if it needs shortening. You will be much more comfortable and relaxed if you’re not worrying, throughout your presentation, that you might not fit it all in if you don’t go fast enough.
A truly effective public speaker makes the audience feel as if they are being seen, spoken to, and heard, so you want to give the impression of being tuned into the people in the room. An important way of doing this is to maintain sincere eye contact; looking around the room and meeting people’s eyes (for no more than roughly 3 seconds) has been proven as a strong method of connecting with your audience. You want to look at them, not around or above them. In addition, if one of them poses a question, make sure you really listen and respond in a way that is as individually geared toward the person and the question as possible – the key to being able to do this is to know your material so well that you are able to remain flexible and adaptable, able to navigate the situation in a natural manner rather than having to stick to rigid notecards.
Speak With Conviction
If you speak as if you are passionate about and committed to what you are saying, people won’t likely notice if you make a few gaffes along the way. Your ability to hold the audience’s interest and convince them of the ideas you’re presenting has a lot to do with how much you convey your own sense of belief in those ideas. So be aware of using your vocal tones, your facial expressions, and your body language as tools to convey conviction and enthusiasm and also as powerful mediums of persuasion. Another way to communicate your passion and belief in what you’re presenting is through the basic act of putting together a really strong presentation – if you come in with a highly organized, well thought-out, and articulate presentation, your audience will know they are in the presence of someone who cares about what he or she is saying.