Speaking Confidently and Effectively
Speakers are often aware of the fact that they may be nervous and uncomfortable when speaking in public. This stress is definitely not something you should ignore. A wise man once said – “Fear brings excitement, excitement creates adrenalin, and adrenalin makes your heart beat faster”. Even if there is no reason for you to be afraid of speaking in public, it makes no sense to let the fear run your life. This fear may sometimes hinder your progress and motivation to learn how to speak in public; so don’t give up on yourself. Learning effective ways of dealing with this problem is essential before delving into business speaking skills.
Many people who are afraid to speak in public are likely to hide this problem from others, but as we all know, it’s important for the fear of speaking to be addressed. Sooner or later you will have to start dealing with your inhibitions and fears and learn how to address this problem once and for all. Everyone knows that learning is a process that begins with one step at the time. So, first of all realize what it is exactly that bothers you when speaking in public and why exactly does it cause discomfort for you. For many people, being anxious and afraid of certain situations is not something uncommon, especially if they don’t have any experience or practice communicating with others in public.
Having few tips at your disposal for effective speaking in public will definitely help you improve your confidence and ability of self-expression. First, be sure to make a plan before an engagement with the audience whether it’s going to be an interview or a presentation. This way you will have all your material under control, and there will be no need to refer to notes during the speech. Practice speaking in front of a mirror, or videotape yourself so that you can evaluate your progress as well as practice proper speaking techniques. Pay attention to your posture and gestures when pointing out something on the screen with the help of visuals like PowerPoint presentations or overhead projectors.
1. Develop your own personal speaking style: it’s easy to tell when a speaker is imitating someone else’s gestures, tone of voice or speaking style. Your audience will connect better with you if you speak from the heart and say something meaningful that only you could say in that particular way.
2. Keep it simple: Stick to three main ideas; they can be repeated throughout your speech. If you make complex sentences, it will be harder for the audience to follow along and understand what they are supposed to take home from your talk.
3. Don’t read your speech: It is better to look up while delivering a presentation than trying to remember everything you wrote in your notes. Keep eye contact with the audience; it helps you connect and keep them interested. Use your notes only to jog your memory, if you think something else should be added in order for you to complete an idea.
4. Don’t stretch out a single point: Stick to one or two points throughout the presentation as opposed to cramming each slide with information. You want to fill your audience with the most important points of your talk and give them a reason to come back for more, if you can’t stick with one topic it will be very difficult to keep their attention.
5. Consider writing out your notes on the slides or print out files to make sure that you don’t have to rely on technology. If you use a computer, you should also practice without the slides so that there is no chance for mistakes. This way you are less likely to be thrown off if something unexpected happens like failure of projector or microphone.
6. Speak loudly and clearly: Look directly into the audience’s eyes, speak slowly, pause and take your time with each point. Some people have a tendency to want to say all they can in one sentence without pausing or breathing so make sure you don’t rush yourself.
7. Practice what you talk about: it is essential for success both as a public speaker and business owner because if you fail to practice speaking in public, you might even fail as an entrepreneur. So conduct exercises and rehearsals as much as possible because it will help you gain confidence.
8. Work on your voice tone: Don’t make the same mistake of most introverts, who tend to talk softly while giving speeches. Your audience won’t understand you and might think that you were shy since they can’t hear you clearly.
9. Don’t worry about the silence: It is normal to get nervous before a speech and not talk for several seconds, but this should not be an excuse for a lack of vocal presence. We have seen many top public speakers who fail to be completely confident while giving a speech. If you don’t talk then try to fill the void with your gestures and facial expressions.
10. Mind your body language: Stand up straight, deliver your message in a confident manner but avoid making exaggerated hand gestures as it might distract attention from your speech rather than adding anything valuable.
11. Don’t be afraid to tell classical jokes: it will help your audience pay attention to the main message and not get distracted by something else. Furthermore, there should be a perfect balance between serious stuff and joke telling as it is all about promoting yourself in an effective manner.
Humor can be very powerful because it allows you to relax and breathe between serious parts of your speech. It is important not to rely too much on humor because some business scenarios might not be funny and it will leave your audience confused. In this case, you can use sarcasm which is a great way to communicate with your target audience.
12. Use power words: they get your point across and help you sell yourself in a better way. Power words can be used for both jokes and serious parts of the speech, such as “It was no easy task” or “We have been working on that project since three months”.
13. Practice pauses: There should be some space between sentences to build up a pause for dramatic effect. This way your audience will be more likely to listen and follow along with the speech. It is important to make pauses because it indicates that you are planning out what you want to say next.
14. Say no thank you: Don’t accept everything that comes your way just because you feel like it will help you grow as a person. Remember that saying no to something does not mean you are being arrogant or rude, just be careful and stay focused on what’s really important to your business.
15. Don’t eat before the big speech: We all do it yet we fail to see how disgusting this habit really is. We are not saying don’t eat at all during the day, just try to avoid eating too much before you make that big speech in public.
16. Don’t check your phone: People will notice and it might seem like you didn’t prepare well enough or care about what they have come here to hear. As a general rule, practice self-discipline and put your phone on silent mode before you start talking in public.
17. Don’t hesitate to talk with others: If there are people that seem to be interested in what they have come here to hear then it would be a great idea to approach them after the conference or at least to shake their hands. Try to get in touch with different people as it will help you a lot in the future.
18. Don’t forget to smile: Smiling shows that you are friendly and approachable as well as being confident in what you are saying. A smile allows you to relax and focus on what is really important so always make sure that it shows up on your face.
19. Don’t forget the eye contact: This technique has been used in public speaking for many years because it helps deliver the message in a very clear manner. It will let your audience follow along without being distracted. However, don’t stare at your audience because it might be considered rude and arrogant. Instead, shift your gaze from one person to the next in an organized manner.
20. Don’t run away with your speech: Make sure you don’t go over time and deliver all the information that is planned. You can go through the presentation a few times, so you know for what amount of time you need to speak every topic. Furthermore, even if it is not up to you when exactly the speaker ends, you can always suddenly start talking about something else and run out of speaking time.
21. Don’t sweat too much: When speaking in public, it is normal that you feel nervous from time to time but don’t overdo it with the sweating part as you might get stains on your shirt which will make you look bad in front of your audience. It might be a good idea to keep some wet wipes or hand sanitizer with you at all times.
22. Don’t talk too fast: It is normal that whenever we are nervous our speech becomes faster but always bear in mind that this will distract the listeners from what you are saying. Instead of that, slow down and take a deep breath and then start speaking clearly yet with some pauses in between.
23. Don’t leave the stage without smiling: Smiling will give your audience a positive impression about you as well as helping them relax after listening to what you have had to say. Before leaving the stage always take a few seconds to smile at them and leave the audience with a good impression of you.
24. Don’t forget your handouts: People will want to hold on to something in their hands while listening to you speak so make sure that they have something to look at as well. It could be a brochure, a booklet or just a few papers with the main points of your speech.
25. Don’t forget to give your contact details: This is very important as you will want people to be able to reach out to you for more information or in case they have a question which is not answered by the brochure or handouts.