Being called upon to deliver some sort of rendition, be it speech or performance, can happen at any time: whether you are prepared or not. It is much easier when you have to do it in a group but it becomes more challenging when it has to be done alone. So how do you improve or even master the art of public speaking? Here are some tips that can help you to be perfect on the podium.
- Plan appropriately
The first thing you say when called upon to make a delivery is what determines whether you will have your audience with you throughout your speech or not. Just like the first paragraph of an article can determine your interest in reading it, your first words matter a lot. Right from the beginning, you need to intrigue your audience. You could begin your speech with interesting statistics, a joke, storytelling or a conversation with your audience. This should also help you adjust to the environment you find yourself in.
Remember that not all public speaking will be scheduled. You can make good impromptu speeches if you keep yourself updated with happenings around you. You become a knowledgeable person and you are sure to make good deliveries at any time.
You simply cannot be a confident, compelling speaker without practice. “Practice makes perfect!” You should always seek the opportunity to speak before people so as to build your confidence.
If you are going to be delivering a presentation, create it as early as possible and spend more time practicing how you are going to make the delivery. If appropriate, do a dummy run in front of a small audience: this will help you calm your nerves and make you feel more comfortable with the material. Your audience can also give you useful feedback, especially on your material and presentation skill.
- Engage with your audience and pay attention to your body language.
Try to engage your audience by asking questions and encouraging your audience to speak.
Keep in mind that some words reduce your power as a speaker. Words like “just,” “actually” and “I think” limit your authority and conviction. Avoid using them.
Pay attention to your body language and stand upright straight. Do not make gestures that will make you look nervous. Take deep breaths, look people in the eye, and smile. You could also choose a particular friendly face in your audience as your point of focus. Regular pauses would help you to regain your posture.
Instead of standing behind the podium all the time, walk around and use gestures to engage the audience. This movement and energy will also come through in your voice, making it more active and passionate.
- Think positively
When you stand before an audience and you have negative thoughts about your performance, you just add up to reducing your confidence. Positive thinking can make a huge difference to the success of your communication. It is important to be affirmative, especially before your presentation. Visualize giving a successful presentation and strive to live up to that standard, this helps you to build a positive attitude before you begin your presentation.
- Assess your performance
You can improve your speaking skills by assessing yourself after your presentation. If possible, you can record your presentation and watch it later or ask members from your audience questions pertaining to your performance. Take note of verbal stalls and body language as you assess yourself. Also, consider how you handled your audience because they are the most important party in your presentation.
Whether talking in a team meeting or presenting in front of an audience, the outcome strongly affects the way that people think about us. Even if you do not need to make regular presentations in front of an audience, there are situations where good public speaking skills can help you advance your career and create opportunities, and so do not compromise on improving it.