Public speaking is an integral part of professional life, one without which your survival in the job market is almost impossible. At the initial levels it is possible that you might not be required to speak publically or give presentations, but as you progress in your career you are required to do both. Most of us feel panicked when faced with the prospect of speaking in public and addressing a crowd. Whether one is addressing a small group of people or a large gathering, he is bound to feel some level of anxiety. However, with a few clever tips and a lot of practice, one can master the art of public speaking.
Improving Public Speaking Skills:
Speaking in front of a live audience is a scary thought for most of us but it does not have to be that way. These tried and tested pointers will not only help in improving your public speaking skills but also assist you in giving presentations during staff meetings.
Learn From The Best:
The best way to improve your public speaking skills is to learn from those who are considered great public speakers. They can be your superiors, colleagues and even famous personalities such as leaders, politicians and other icons. By keenly observing their style, you can learn a lot about what to do and what not to do when addressing a large gathering of people. Try watching the videos of famous people delivering speeches and observe their method. You do not have to exactly copy the style of one single person since the purpose is to achieve a sense of different styles of delivering a speech or addressing the audience.
Look Your Best:
It is very important to look good when you appear for public speaking or a presentation. People do and will notice what you are wearing and how you are wearing it. If you are dressed improperly or lack neatness in your overall appearance, the audience will notice and the fact that they are criticizing your wardrobe or dress sense will serve as a blow to your self confidence.
Know Your Material:
When you are supposed to address a public meeting or a gathering the worst mistake that you can make is not being fully appraised of the material. As a general rule, if you do not know the subject inside out you must not engage in speaking in front of an audience. The audience is bound to ask all sorts of questions at the end of the presentation or the speech and if you fail to answer even one of them you lose all your credibility.
The best way to deliver a good speech or put up a great presentation is to keep on practicing. The more you practice the more easily you will be able to accomplish the task as you will iron out the kinks in your speech and polish it off nicely. You can practice alone, in front of the mirror or even better if you can get your family and friends to sit as the audience and ask questions. This will help you get better prepared for the question and answer session.
The most important thing is to remain calm when delivering a speech or giving a presentation. Even if you forget a sentence don’t panic. You don’t have to say the exact words and you can always substitute with something right there and them. It is important that you maintain a calm facade and do not let the crowd know that you are nervous. If you act calm and controlled, soon you will actually start feeling calm and composed.
The pace at which you talk plays an important role in ensuring your success or failure. Try not to talk too slow or too fast as the audience will lose interest in both cases. If you are talking too fast the audience will face difficulty in understanding what you are saying and if you talk too slow they will get bored and stop paying attention to what you are saying. The key is to maintain a pace at which you can keep the listeners engaged and engrossed.
Make Eye Contact:
It is pertinent to make eye contact during the presentation or speech. Looking at the back wall of the auditorium or avoiding the eye by focusing on other things fails to do the trick. When you are speaking you need to look into the eyes of the audience to engage them. If you fail to do that the audience soon feels that you are nervous and are not well prepared for the task. Make sure that you do not keep looking at one or two individuals only but try to a large number of people in the audience. It is also important to keep the eye contact short, but not too short and certainly not too long.
Keep it short and to the point. Long presentations and speeches not only bore the audience but they also fail to make the point. When you start talking you get the attention of the audience and you have the chance to engage them right then and there. If you start blabbering and talk about things that have little of value to add to your speech, the audience loses interest. Keeping it short and concise lets them retain the information you just provided and hence is more effective.
Know Your Audience:
The most important part of speaking in public is to know your audience and then cater to their needs accordingly. If you are speaking to a group of executives your tone, style and vocabulary would be different to that you use when addressing a group of interns. So, know your audience and then prepare accordingly.
What To Avoid When Speaking In Public:
There are a few things that you should avoid when speaking in public as they can be fatal mistakes. Some of these are:
Self Praise & Bragging:
Nothing offends the audience more than self praise and bragging. If you are good you will receive praise and the success of your speech or presentation will be a testament to your capabilities.
Nothing can be worse than stammering during the presentation or speech as it completely ruins the overall effect and ruins your confidence. So keep practicing the speech till you get it right.
Trying To Be Someone You Are Not:
This can be the worst mistake ever. If you are not good at cracking jokes do not try to do so during the presentation. Sometimes a light hearted comment helps the presentation by breaking the ice but if you make a bad tasting remark it can do irreparable damage. So just try to be yourself rather than trying to be someone that you clearly are not.