If the thought of speaking in public puts you into a tailspin, you’re certainly not alone. Millions of men and women of all ages share your fears. Anxiety doesn’t just affect you physically; it also compromises your ability to get your point across. Fortunately, there are many strategies for developing your public speaking skills.
Know your audience. If you can, learn who the individuals are who are expected to attend. If you can, greet some of them as they walk in the door and learn their names. The crowd will feel more friendly if you have a level of familiarity with at least some of the people.
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 keeping them on your mobile device.
If you have skipped some of the information in your speech, continue talking rather than getting yourself and the audience confused by an awkward flow of words. Don’t call attention to it and disrupt the flow of your speech. In addition, others are unlikely to recognize the omission if you don’t draw attention to the issue.
It is important to give off a confident vibe when giving a speech. Therefore, avoid looking at the floor, ceiling, or your notes too often during the speech. Instead, look into the eyes of your audience. They will realize you are not only confident, but that you have prepared yourself, as well.
Never tell the audience that you’re sorry for being nervous or any other issue that comes up. Chances are they didn’t even notice in the first place. Even if they do, coming across as lacking in confidence detracts from your position of authority on your speech that you are making.
Do not chew gum or eat when you are making a speech. The chewing is unprofessional and distracts your audience. It is permissible to sip from a glass of water occasionally so that your throat does not get dry. Keep that to a minimum too, as it serves as a distraction from your message.
Do not drink alcohol before you give a speech. Though it may work to loosen you up, that might just be a bad idea. Nothing is more awful than reaching the podium and drawing a blank on what to say, simply because you are drunk.
If you must do a lot of extemporaneous speaking, be sure to keep up on current events and topics of interest. In this way, you will always have something new and interesting to say. Remember that it is usually best to choose a complimentary approach rather than a humorous one unless you are extremely sure of your ability to amuse people!
Never hold a deep conversation with someone just because they are sitting in one of the front rows. When you are speaking in public, everyone should be just as important to you. Make sure that every single person in the room is fully aware of everything that is being said.
When preparing a speech that contains large amounts of information, don’t be too proud to use note cards. Even the most gifted orators recognize the usefulness of notes. It is preferable to quickly glance at your notes rather than cite information incorrectly or omit key points. This works especially well when the topic includes specific figures, such as dollar amounts, percentages, and dates.
Note cards can help you out. While it is best to have your speech committed to memory, having a hard copy handy is not a bad idea. Having an outline on note cards can help refresh your memory of the main points you don’t want to accidentally forget.
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 beat yourself up if you make a mistake during your presentation. Unless the information given wrongly is important do not correct your mistake. Instead, continue on with your speech like nothing has happened. If you need to correct the mistake you made, apologize and correct the mistake and continue on.
Learn as much as possible about your audience. Tailoring your delivery and tone ensures that you make your point clearly. Failure to use an appropriate delivery style will likely cause your audience to lose interest and retain key information. For example, you might consider differences in your audience members’ age, income level, and knowledge of the subject matter.
If you plan to give multiple speeches within a short period of time, take care to protect your vocal cords. A hoarse or inaudible voice is not likely to sway audience members’ opinions. Sleep with a humidifier in your room, sip hot tea, and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
One way to better your public speaking skills is by gaining experience in public speaking. After you have groups of people sit through a couple of your speeches and respond positively to them, you will start gaining authority status. This can boost your confidence and help you become a better speaker.
Include examples and stories into your speech as illustrations. This will make your audience more interested in the information you are presenting. By including information about your family through stories and illustrations, the audience will see you as a person instead of another guest speaker. Limit the stories to one or two for best results.
Each of these tips has proven effective for individuals who once shared your apprehension. With the right mindset and motivation, anyone can deliver their message regardless of the audience size and environment. While you may not ever look forward to future public speaking engagements, you can be sure that you will no longer dread them.