Many people are unable to speak to huge crowds; others are uncomfortable addressing even small groups of less than 50 people. When offered opportunities to speak in public, many decline, or when they are forced by circumstances to speak, they are unable to express themselves clearly. If you are one of these people, you can work on your public speaking skills to help move past these fears. Here are 7 tips that can help you gain confidence in your public speaking skills, learn to persuade clients or potential investors, explain yourself to your peers or group members, and create professional networks and connections.
1. Be Brief and Simple
Relay your ideas to your audience in small, digestible bits. Use understandable words and language. It is best that you deliver your speech clearly and concisely — work on getting straight to the point.
2. Prepare to Give, Not to Take
The greatest mistake you can make when preparing your speech is to bank on a positive response from the audience. The burden of making the presentation lively and engaging lies squarely on your shoulders. The audience is not obligated to buy your products or agree with your ideas. In fact, they don’t have to like you or follow you on social media. It is your job to engage the audience and make them see value in your presentation and teach them something valuable. You need to inspire them into buying your subscription, product, or idea. Prepare to give, not to take.
3. Hone Your Non-Verbal Speaking Skills
People notice even the slightest changes in body language. In fact, studies show that for every 15-minute presentation, the audience spends 93% of the time focusing on your facial expressions, gestures, and body movement. What comes from your mouth contributes to only 7% of your speech’s failure or success.
Some of the important non-verbal speaking skills that you can cultivate include:
- Moving comfortably around the podium or whichever space you’ve been given.
- Matching your hand gestures to what you’re saying.
- Mirroring your facial expressions with the mood in the room.
4. Join a Public Speaking Class
Enroll in a public speaking course if you get nervous at the thought of speaking in public. A good class will equip you with all the skills and strategies you need to work with the fear and nervousness that holds you back from speaking in front of people.
5. Don’t Read Your Speech
Instead of reading a pre-written speech, it is better to write down the most important notes, and then use them as a guide to where you need to go with the address. In fact, delivering valid points without constantly checking your notes will give your audience the impression that you are very knowledgeable in the subject matter.
6. Maintain Eye Contact
Choose a spot in the audience and look directly at the people within that spot for an entire sentence or thought. Don’t break eye contact until the idea gets home. Shift to another spot for the subsequent thought. Focusing on one person disconnects you from the thousands of people in the room and makes it appear like you are in face-to-face interaction with just one person.
7. Monitor Your Performance
After you are done delivering your speech, take the event’s recordings and scrutinize your performance. Identify the areas that you need to improve on, the habits you need to discard, and the techniques you should keep in your subsequent addresses.
You’ve Got This!
It is normal to feel butterflies in your stomach during your first public speaking session. Allow yourself to feel the pressure, but don’t let the pressure affect your confidence. It will only take you a couple of minutes to feel comfortable. Get yourself through the opening minutes, and everything will fall into place as you interact with the audience.