Does the mere idea of giving a speech in front of an audience make you nervous? It doesn’t have to be this way.
Whether presenting a topic at the university, giving a speech at a wedding, or exhibiting the results of the monthly balance at work, public speaking is inevitable in many aspects of life. A source of insecurity for many and paralyzing fear for others, standing in front of an audience with confidence is something that can be learned and improved through practice.
Want to improve your public speaking skills but can’t seem to stay calm?
We share some public speaking tips to release you from the panic, and express your ideas with efficiency and tranquility:
10 of The Best Public Speaking Tips
1. Learn from the best.
If you are preparing for a presentation, investigate what makes good speakers so good. Look for the latest TED talks and pay attention to the gestures, habits, and behaviors of the presenters. See how you can incorporate them in your speech.
2. Know your material well.
Improvising is NOT a good idea. While following the flow and being spontaneous is advisable, trusting that your presentation will be good without a hint of preparation is something that not even the best speakers would do.
Investigate. Know intimately the subject and what you will say, and how you are going to say it. A full understanding of what you are talking about is one of the indispensable public speaking tips.
3. Practice, practice, and practice again.
Once you’ve put together your presentation, check it out. Then check it again. Practice your speech in front of a mirror, and then in front of a family member or friend. Each time you repeat your presentation you will feel more comfortable, and the idea of conducting it in front of an audience will be less intimidating.
4. Prepare a “Plan B.”
Thinking about “what can happen if…” generates anxiety.
“What happens if the computer does not recognize the PowerPoint presentation?”
“What happens if someone interrupts constantly?”
“What do I do if the projector doesn’t work?”
These are some of the questions that can panic in any speaker. It is for this reason that you must create contingency plans and be more prepared if the worst happens (although it probably won’t).
5. Don’t wait Until The Last Moment…
… to check that the microphone works, that the projector projects or that the projector illuminates.
All this MUST be prepared beforehand. In case something fails, smile and try to maintain your composure while you or others take care of the problem. The most important thing is how you react.
Remember, however, that the slides should not have much text, because in that case, no one will hear what you say. If the whole presentation is spent reading directly from a paper or slides, you will show lack of confidence and knowledge in what you say.
Visual aids are just that – Aids. Only use them to illustrate and support your argument, not to outright state it.
6. Talk to one person at a time.
One of the aspects of giving speeches that can generate more terror is the public.
Perhaps the very idea of standing in front of many expectant people, waiting to hear your words, can make you feel shivers. The best way to overcome this fear is to talk to ONE person at a time.
Choose three people from the audience and alternate your gaze between them, as if they were having a conversation in a cafe. Look them in the eye.
Most importantly, do not look at the floor, the ceiling, or your notes. This will prove that you are not prepared enough nor have confidence in what you’re saying.
7. Incorporate your personal opinion.
Anyone can “copy and paste a theme” and repeat it mechanically in front of an audience. What will make the difference in your presentation is what YOU can bring from your personal experience and knowledge.
Try to include occasional thoughts and opinions of your own. Although these must be previously planned and prepared, try to make them seem spontaneous. Giving a little of you to the presentation will make you feel more interesting in the eyes of the public.
8. Speak clearly.
Speaking at too rapid a speed is one of the most obvious telltale signs of nervousness. Even if your speech is brilliant, if no one can understand you, it has the same value as if dictating your shopping list. Try to speak slowly and clearly, even a little slower than normal.
9. Be brief.
Unfortunately, there are many speakers who extend their presentation to the unthinkable with never-ending speeches, not caring about the deadly boredom of the audience or respecting their time.
Do NOT be one of them. I learned in Business School that good presentations come down to these 3 public speaking tips.
- Tell The Audience What You’re Going to Present.
- Present It.
- Conclude By Telling Them Again.
Simple and easy to remember.
10. Relax yourself.
So forget all the silly advice you hear about imagining audience members being naked, or cracking jokes. Keep these public speaking tips in mind next time you have to present, and you’ll do just fine.