Few people are gifted with the ability to give talks and few enjoy them. The process of writing and presenting a speech is therefore considered tedious, uncomfortable and troubling for many people.
There are plenty of tips out there on how to improve in public speaking in the long run, but that’s not what this article is all about.
Instead you will learn various public speaking tips that you can use immediately to help your next talk be a success!
Before The Speech
1. Speak about something YOU are interested in.
What a need for flexibility for your audience. Make a statement about something you are really interested in. By playing with your strengths, you will make it much easier for yourself.
In many cases the audience will love you more if you talk about something you enjoy than something you think they might enjoy.
By doing this you will avoid going out like trying hard.
2. Basic speech structure
There is a reason why movies, books, and speeches follow a structure.
This is because the brain likes to chronologically divide things into different sections. Therefore a typical speech has an introduction, a body and a conclusion.
By following this structure you are making it easier for the observer to process the information of your speech, which increases the likelihood that your message is well received.
For the intro you may want to start with a story or a question to get the audience’s attention from the get-go.
The body is is the main portion of the speech. It should contain the main points that you want to make
The conclusion finalizes the speech and clarifies to the audience what the most important points of the speech were.
People’s short-term memories are worse than you think. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to include a conclusion.
3. Write an outline and focus on key points
Write down the main points of what you would like to say.
Keep it as simple as possible. Bullet points work well.
If you have written a very simple outline, try it quickly and record it while you do it if you can.
Keep doing this for as long as possible and feel free to do better.
The point of this work is not to make a perfect statement, but to use it as an inspiration for writing a speech and finding new ideas that you can write. You will probably find yourself talking about wise things that have not been added to the talk.
Another reason why this is a good idea is that it gives you more repetition and emphasizes a solid foundation for important points in your memory. This will make your talk come out as a little written.
Even though you may be tempted to show your expertise by talking about many different things and giving a tone of knowledge, it is usually a bad idea unless your talk is long.
By simplifying and focusing on a few key points (3 magical numbers) you will make it easier for the audience to fully understand what you are saying.
Everything you say in the talk should relate to the main points and support the simple message that you want to convey.
5. Enunciate words clearly
It can be helpful to remind yourself to speak slowly and to express yourself clearly because many people tend to speak rapidly because of nervousness.
And it makes you look smart.
6. Take deliberate pauses
People don’t understand as quickly as you think they do.
They need some time to catch up with what you are saying. This is particularly important when giving a humorous speech because pauses build tension and suspense which in turn is what makes something funny.
You can capitalize on this by taking deliberate pauses when you make your key points or your jokes.
7. Rehearse a lot
It does not mean that you need to repeat at least a few times. At the very least, you should know your introduction.
Just Before and During the Speech
8. Use appropriate hand gestures and body language
Most of our communication is made through body language, not by spoken words. Therefore, it pays to have expressive body language and purposefully move around the stage, as opposed to standing still in one place.
A lot of people use the same hand gestures over and over. Try not to do that as it gets confusing to the audience.
9. Get audience engagement in any way you can
The faster you are able to involve your audience, the more interested they will become. Get them to invest into the speech somehow.
If you see a good opportunity to say something you think is funny, go for it. The things that you say in the moment and are situation-specific are often much more funny than scripted material.
Other ways of getting audience engagement might involve:
- Telling the audience to vote or raise their hands if they agree with what you’re saying
- Playing a game with them
- Asking questions to individuals in the audience
- Passing around a prop of some kind
10. Get focused
I mentioned earlier how it is important to get into an ideal state of mind before delivering the speech and how you could speak to people and also get to know the audience. That’s the social part.
But to get into an ideal state, you also require a certain degree of mental focus. To achieve this I would recommend you do at least one of the following three things prior to the speech:
- Work out or go running.
- Drink a cup of coffee or tea, or eat raw cocoa.
11. Get to know the audience
Talk to as many people as possible and introduce yourself. People will be more friendly to you after you do this. Familiarity with similarities plays a major role in public speaking and marketing. Take advantage of this.
Another important thing about getting this is the warmth the community has to offer. When you are about to deliver an important talk, it helps to put yourself in a better position. Do that by deliberately talking to as many people as possible and generating more social contact as quickly as possible during the day.
This will greatly enhance your comfort and make you more comfortable and attractive.
12. Get an inside man
Ask a member of the audience to be kind to you and ask you a question when / if you ask for volunteers or questions. Set a specific question to make yourself look smart. Researchers and expert speakers do this extensively.
You may also want to ask this person to do other things. Perhaps you can ask him to laugh at a certain point in your talk, or he may allow you to interrupt him a little.
Techniques for Effective Delivery
Whenever you speak in public, it is a multimedia experience for the audience. Not only do they listen to the talk, but they also notice when you do it. Also, when a speaker uses visual aids, such as visual aids, charts, or PowerPoint slides, the audience receives other visual stimuli. The way you put the presentation together is what will make you different from those who give “enough” speech.
Use of Your Body
When you develop the ability to gauge the audience’s reactions and adjust your presentation accordingly, you will be a much more effective speaker. The following supporting tips will help you be more confident and improve your ability to make eye contact:
Know your material. Know the material so well that you do not have to devote your mental energy to the task of remembering the sequence of ideas and words.
Prepare well and rehearse enough so that you do not have to depend too heavily on notes. Many speakers, no matter how well prepared, need at least a few notes to deliver their message. If you can speak effectively without notes, by all means do so. But if you choose to use notes, they should be only a delivery outline, using key words. Notes are not a substitute for preparation and practice.
Establish a personal bond with listeners. Begin by selecting one person and talking to him/ her personally. Maintain eye contact with that person long enough to establish a visual bond (about five to ten seconds). This is usually the equivalent of a sentence or a thought. Then shift your gaze to another person. In a small group, this is relatively easy to do. But, if you are addressing hundreds or thousands of people, it is impossible. What you can do is pick out one or two individuals in each section of the room and establish personal bonds. Then, each listener will get the impression you are talking directly to him/her.
Monitor visual feedback. While you are talking, your listeners are responding with their own nonverbal messages. Use your eyes to actively seek out this valuable feedback. If individuals aren’t looking at you, they may not be listening either. Make sure they can hear you. Then work to actively engage them.
Your Appearance Matters
Numerous studies have shown that appearance affects everything from work to social status. Whether we like to admit it or not, our culture has a lot of attention to appearance. Attractive people are more likely to get a job, get a promotion, and get a girlfriend (or boyfriend). Bonnie Berry’s 2008 study on physical appearance also shows that the appeal of communication influences the way the audience perceives the speaker’s fidelity. Overall, attractive speakers were considered trustworthy.
What does that mean for you as you prepare for the talk? The bottom line: Make an effort. If your audience is going to wear suits and dresses, wear your best suit or dress – a dress that brings you the most compliments. Make sure all clothing is neat and orderly. Certainly a seemingly embarrassing speaker gives the audience the impression that we do not really care, and that is not the first idea you want to convey to your audience.