Public speaking is an art that many people are afraid to practice. Public speaking skills are extremely valuable for all business owners. Gaining the skills needed for effective public speaking means taking the time to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. It means having a good grasp on how well you can communicate ideas, and it means that you will be a more effective leader. Pedro David Espinoza gives 11 tips on how to be an excellent public speaker and how these skills can benefit you in the business world.
- Understand Your Audience
Whenever you prepare to make a speech in public, you should understand the people you are trying to influence. Whether you are making a fun speech at a friend’s wedding or a crucial business presentation, you can tailor your speech to the correct audience. Understand the reason why you are giving the speech and think about how your content will benefit the people who are listening. Understand what you want your listeners to take away from the experience.
- Make Sure to Rehearse
Rehearsing your speech will go a long way toward preparing you. If you know your content well, it will show in the confidence with which you make the speech. Muscle memory and mental recall will go a long way toward helping you reach your goals. You should practice your speech as much as possible, taking advantage of opportunities while you are driving, exercising, or doing tasks around the house. The more you practice, the better your speech will be.
- Use Distractions Wisely
When you are giving your speech, it is likely that you will be distracted by something else happening in the room. You may even be distracted by your own nerves. Practice while you have the TV on or while your children are in the room. Being able to bounce back from interruptions will keep you looking professional under pressure.
- Work with a Specific Style
You should be able to tailor the style of your speech to the event or occasion. On some occasions, it is fine to look at your notes, but on other occasions, you will want to make it seem like you are not overly rehearsed. This can be the most difficult type of speech for a novice to give. If you need your notes, that’s fine, but you should memorize your speech, nevertheless.
- Know Your Environment
You should visit the venue where you will be speaking ahead of time. Check out the room, the stage, and any equipment you may need. When you get a feeling for the room, it will be easier for you to make a speech comfortably.
- Test Your Equipment
Make sure that all of the equipment you plan to use, from slideshows to microphones, is in perfect working order before you start. If you are speaking at a work event, it is a great idea to bring an assistant or someone else from your department along to help you with the technical considerations. Make sure that you have backups for all of your equipment.
- Practice with a Mirror
This seems like the most cliched advice but practicing in front of a mirror can make you a much better speaker. Look up from your notes and make eye contact with yourself. You won’t want to stare your audience down, but you will want to make eye contact from time to time to make yourself more approachable. Practicing in front of a mirror will make you look more professional and less rehearsed.
- Speak Frequently
When you are learning public speaking, it is smart to take as many opportunities as you can to practice the art. If you frequently speak in public, you will be able to put many of your fears at ease. Every time you speak, you will be better at it, and you will have to rely less on crutches like notes. Your audience will relax if you relax, and they will be able to pay attention to your topic rather than looking at you with pity or anxiety.
- Body Language
Be sure that your body language is open and approachable. If you are standing rigidly or stiffly, your audience will know that you are nervous. Hunching down or fidgeting are other problems you may have when you are learning how to speak in public. When you moderate these tendencies, you will be a more effective public speaker. This is another occasion when speaking in front of a mirror can be a huge benefit to you.
- Slow Down
Many people who are nervous speak too quickly. It is confusing and irritating to try to follow a speaker when they are going a mile a minute. Focus on enunciating, and getting your words out with a regular, slow flow. You will feel like you are going too slowly, but your audience will thank you. Practice in front of another person to get their feedback on your pacing.
- Understand Your Material
When you fully understand your material, you will be able to give a nuanced speech. If you are just reading words off a card, your audience will know. If you have a firm grounding in your subject matter, you will be able to answer questions during and after the talk. You will lose credibility in the eyes of your audience if you do not have any knowledge beyond the content of your speech.
Relax and Be Yourself
All of these guidelines may be intimidating, but when you follow them, you are more likely to be a successful public speaker. Above all, relax and don’t be afraid to be yourself. Using humor at the right times and telling related stories can be a help in focusing your audience’s attention. Your self-confidence and good attitude will go a long way toward making you a credible public speaker. Pedro David Espinoza encourages all public speakers to practice their art.