TOP 10 PUBLIC SPEAKING TIPS
1. Watch and learn from the professionals
Some people are naturally brilliant at captivating an audience, so go and see them in action. How do they open their talks and grab the attention of the audience? What gets the best reaction and interaction from their listeners? Study their body language, the way they dress, the materials they use. Analyse what you and your fellow listeners value about the talk and the presenter and adapt the key learnings to make them your own.
2. Know your content
Research your content thoroughly and share some new studies and statistics so you can educate your audience and show you are an expert in your field. Keep up to date with the latest news and trends so you are prepared for questions and you are able to answer them with conviction. Being thoroughly versed in your topic will enable you to deliver it with conviction and passion.
3. Know your audience
Research your audience before you speak. Who are they? What do they do? What level of expertise do they have already? What are they interested in? What outcome does the organizer want for them? How many will be there? Will they get a chance to ask questions and to talk to you afterwards? Make sure your material is relevant and to the point and create your content around the needs of your audience to ensure they are fully engaged.
You may have delivered this talk many times before, however, there is always room for improvement and practicing before you speak will enable you to add new relevant information, fine tune your words and add new knowledge you have acquired since the last time you spoke.
If you are new to speaking – practice until you feel really confident in your delivery. Practice in front of a family member, partner or colleague and ask for their honest feedback and then amend your talk accordingly.
If you are likely to forget the content, keep prompt cards to hand which you can relate too. However, make sure you don’t just read through them, they are only there as prompts.
5. Get them involved
Keep your audience engaged rather than just talking at them for a long period of time. Research has shown that people will pay attention for a maximum of 7-10 minutes so avoid speaking for long periods of time without any interaction. Every so often ask them a question or give them something practical to do to emphasise the points you are trying to make.
Keep good eye contact with your audience and be intuitive as to when it is time to shake things up a little.
If you appear nervous, talk too quickly or in a very quiet voice with little passion or energy, you will make your audience uneasy. Remember you know far more on your specialist subject than your audience does so you are educating them and everyone loves to learn. You want to have them hanging on your every word!
If you feel a little uneasy, take a deep breath, hold for a couple of seconds, look up and make eye contact with your audience and begin speaking clearly and slowly.
Use the power of the pause! You don’t have to fill every nano-second. Pauses will give you time to think and your audience time to absorb your wisdom, they also make you appear more confident.
Using anecdotes in your talk will not only emphasise the point you are trying to make, it also brings it alive and engages the audience. Everyone loves a good story and it makes your talk more memorable and personal.
8. Small errors are okay
If you forget what you want to say, use a wrong word or phrase – it really doesn’t matter especially if you can make light of it. People do it all the time, so don’t keep thinking about why you did it, laugh it off and just keep going. Nobody knows what you had planned to say next and it shows some vulnerability which is endearing to others.
9. Wrapping things up
Knowing when enough is enough is really important. Too often speakers say ‘and finally’ and then ramble on for a further 5-10 minutes by which time their listeners have moved on to anticipate the next speaker or the break. Finish with a memorable thought, great quote or clear call to action and keep something back that is likely to make them want to hear more.
10. Gratitude goes a long way
Ensure you always thank the hosts and your audience. They have gifted you their valuable time so show them that you are grateful and that you appreciate the opportunity