10 Tips for Perfecting Your Public Speaking Skills
By Rachel Nicolas
A skilled public speaker can persuade, inspire and captivate an audience. Although inspiring the masses may seem like a long shot, even the greatest speakers in history implemented tips to improve their public speaking skills. Mastering the art takes time and practice, but these ten tips can help.
Tell a story
Part of being a good public speaker includes having good content to speak about. If you don’t have intention and value behind your words, it’s likely that you’ll lose your audience instead of drawing them in. One of the worst things you can experience when speaking is looking up to see blank and confused faces. Storytelling can help with that.
Create an outline
Once you’ve got the bulk of your story thought out, create an outline. A good rule of thumb is to include these three things: an attention-grabbing opener, three key points and a dynamic, memorable closer.
Have you heard the phrase – practice doesn’t make perfect, but perfect practice does? This includes practicing out loud, in front of someone else, with the right tone and testing out various gestures and hand motions. It also helps to time yourself to ensure you aren’t going over your allotted speaking time.
Once you’ve practiced a few times, take out a camera to record yourself. Nothing helps fix a mistake more than seeing it first-hand. Recording yourself doesn’t just help with seeing if your story is interpreted clearly, but it also helps to catch your filler words and calls attention to your fidgets and pauses that you may not be aware of.
Set your talking points
Be prepared! Having talking points to refer back to is perfect if you suddenly lose your train of thought. Sometimes the nerves will get to you or you get distracted by something in the audience. Your talking points should be a short sentence that jogs your memory and positions you back on track.
Dress the part
If you’re speaking at a huge conference, you don’t want to show up dressed in workout clothes. Likewise, if you’re speaking at a rehearsal dinner, you wouldn’t want to show up in a tuxedo. Make sure that you’re dressed appropriately. Dressing the part improves credibility and a good appearance can project confidence. If you look good, you feel good!
Do a ‘power pose’
Need a quick boost of confidence before all eyes are on you? Try out a power pose! According to Harvard Business School professor, Amy Cuddy, confidence has more to do with how you stand than how you talk. If you want your audience to perceive you as confident, start with your body language!
If possible, quietly make your way to the podium to get settled. You’ll have about two minutes to take a breather while your audience is still on their phones or wrapping up a conversation. This is your chance to get acclimated to your environment.
Adapt to your audience
Learn about your audience beforehand and cater your language to that particular group – you wouldn’t use professional speech in front of your family, etc. If you can, observe your audience. Do they look uninterested? Is their posture suddenly welcoming when you bring up a certain subject? This is your chance to adjust in real time.
Ask for feedback
This one is self-explanatory. There is always room for improvement. Whether you often speak publicly or you just dabble in toasts from time to time, asking for feedback can help you improve for next time.
In an age where speaking opportunities are endless and just about everyone is working on becoming a better speaker, “picturing everyone in their underwear” just won’t cut it. With these tips, you’ll be able to connect with your audience and implement steps towards perfecting your public speaking skills. Getting ready to speak at a conference? UPRAISE can set you up for success!