Are you one of the millions of Americans who find public speaking to be absolutely terrifying? Does your heart race at the mere idea of standing up in front of a group of people? Fear not, you are not alone. Public speaking is one of the most difficult skills to perfect. When you’re thinking about giving a memorable speech, you’ll want to amass, solidify and extend your presence in a way that captivates the entire audience. As easy as it sounds, this is incredibly difficult. But developing this skill can be a deciding factor in your career advancement, business growth and relationships with friends and family. This is a skill worth learning. Below, you will find ten guiding principles that can help you refine your public speaking abilities. By following these concepts, you can finally take control of the room and deliver an incredible message.
When presenting a speech, it is absolutely vital that you practice before your presentation. It is very easy to tell when someone is ‘winging it’. Preparing and practicing your speech will allow you to, first and foremost, revise any holes or misunderstandings you may find in your delivery. In addition, practicing will give you the opportunity to become more comfortable with the ideas and concepts that you’re discussing. Remember, the best speeches are those that are truly internalized. Practicing allows you the opportunity to know the ins and outs of everything you’ll be discussing.
2. Get the Audience’s Attention
No matter whom you are talking to, grabbing the attention of your audience will set the foundation of your speech. You can begin by asking them a question, stating various facts, telling them a story or arousing their curiosity. Whatever you do, do not blatantly start talking about your topic. Be interesting. Show them that you’re the person they want to listen to.
3. Introduce Yourself
This is a step many speakers tend to forget. In your speech, you’ll want to provide a summary or gist of your academic and professional background. Having this sense of openness will leave the audience feeling comfortable with you. Additionally, providing such background information will give you a stronger credibility with your audience.
4. Have a Main Idea or Theme to Your Speech
The main problem with many speeches is that they try to do too much. Make sure that your speech centralizes on a main them or idea. Having this concept in mind will allow you to avoid the mistake of discussing unrelated tangents or stories. Remember, your main goal is for your audience to leave with a complete understanding of your message. Give them that reason!
5. Show Your Emotion
The best and most captivating speeches are those where the presenter shows personality and emotion. The biggest mistake you can make is losing your audience. Bad presentations, such as those infamous college lectures, can often be found dull and monotone. When you discuss stories or examples, show strong enthusiasm. Portray necessary emotions that match the concept or topic you’re presenting. If you want your audience to worry, show them concern. If you want them to be excited, show them enthusiasm. As long as you engage with the audience, you will never lose them.
6. Be Informative
As much you want to be animated, providing valid and sound facts is crucial. Facts and evidence can give your presentation strong credibility, answering various ‘why’ questions when you present your main idea.
7. Do Not Read Your Speech
This goes back to practicing. One constant mistake many presenters make is that they always look down at their notes. To avoid this, practice your speech to the point where you can remember a majority of it. Oftentimes, people will look down, not just because they don’t know their speech, but also because they are scared to look at their audience. By practicing, you will able to build a comfort level where your notes are only a reminder of your flow and order.
8. Make Eye Contact
Similar to number 7, you don’t want to constantly look at your speech. Engaging in eye contact with your audience will show a level of confidence and comfort that you’ll want to attain when presenting. This all goes back to practicing. Make sure you are able to internalize your speech so that you can look at your audience. If you are still having a difficult time, try picking three points in the room that you can divert your eyes to when looking around. This will give you the opportunity to overcome your fear of looking at the crowd without necessarily looking in their eyes.
9. Connect with Your Audience
The sign of a strong motivational speech is how confident and comfortable the presenter is interacting with the crowd. A lot of this can be attributed to your body language. Try moving around the room. Walk around and reach out to people. In addition, use various hand gestures as you talk. Speaking with your hands can oftentimes provide the control a person needs to overcome their fears when presenting.
10. Leave Them Wanting More
Similar to your introduction, you’ll want to grab your audience’s attention at the end, as you summarize. Having this hook will leave your audience wanting to know more information about your topic when you conclude. Providing them rhetorical questions or action questions will force them to both internalize and think about what you have discussed.