At one point or another, you are probably going to have to speak before others. No matter to whom you have to speak, being a good public speaker can have a massive impact for the better. The following advice will help you speak well in almost any situation.
When speaking in public, make sure that what you have to say is engaging, otherwise you risk boring the crowd. Regardless of what you have to say, it will not go over well if it is boring. Practice your speech on people you know to see how the message you are giving is being received.
Keep a loud and commanding voice throughout to make sure it is memorable – this is doubly important if it is a big room such as a conference venue or meeting room.
The way you look can determine how well you do at public speaking. If you are not well-groomed or dressed at your best, you are not going to feel very confident with yourself. This lack of confidence may cause you more fear and could mess up your whole speech. So, be sure to look your best!
Some people prepare their notes for speaking in public by using a tablet or other device; however, this is not necessarily a good idea. Murphy’s law is sure to strike and leave you with a dead battery, a stolen device or some other catastrophe. Be safe and write your remarks on index cards as well as keep going if you accidentally omit a certain sentence from your speech. If you go back in time to try to cover something that isn’t fully necessary, you could find yourself becoming confused and lost in the speech entirely. If you don’t mention it, the audience will never know you overlooked something.
Avoid fidgeting when speaking in front of an audience. Playing with your hair, chewing on your nails and other similar behaviours serve to distract the audience from listening to what you have to say. Instead of remembering your message, they may remember that you continually smoothed your hair. If you find it difficult to stop fidgeting, clasp your hands together in front of you or behind you, or place them on the lectern.
Arrive half an hour early for your speaking engagement so that you can familiarize yourself with the room. Determine where you will be during the presentation. Figure out what path you will take to get to the podium. Be sure to have a glass of water placed on the podium. By taking care of these small details, you will feel more comfortable while speaking.
Do not be afraid to let your audience know that you have no idea of the answer to some of their questions. People will respect your honesty and understand that you are human. This is much better than rambling on trying to convince them you know what is going on when you don’t.
Never take a drink of alcohol prior to making a public speech. You may be tempted to consume a little liquid courage, but it is not a good idea. You don’t want to risk forgetting what you want to say just because you decided to have a drink or two prior to your speech.
Utilize note cards. While you should commit your speech to memory, keep a written copy handy in case you lose your place. Don’t worry about having the full text of your speech with you, just be concerned about the important points you’re going to make so you can make sure you don’t forget any of them.
Eye contact is critical during public speaking engagements. Although you may not be able to make eye contact with every member of a large audience, your efforts will not go unnoticed. Before your speech, identify key members of the audience and their assigned seating, if possible. This enables you to make the greatest impact on the most important audience members.
Don’t leap right into your topic. Be sure to start your speech with a nice greeting for your audience. This will help put everyone at ease. It also gives you a chance to settle into position and prepare yourself to speak. Of course, it is also simply the most polite thing to do.
You don’t have to be trained in speaking to give a good speech. To be successful, you need to learn about your audience, prepare properly, and be confident. These tips may help you when you aren’t speaking in public too.
Sandy Halliday is a writer and content producer for 200 SVS, Glasgow’s premier conference and events venue.