You might be pitching for an investment or potential business. You might be representing your organisation at an event. You might be presenting at a team meeting or company-wide presentation. Often in your leadership career, you’ll have to present to others. If you want to deliver a memorable speech or tackle anxiety, our public speaking tips can help.
Training in public speaking, as well as the many other types of training leaders should take, can supercharge your public speaking skills. This post will provide you with public speaking tips to help you improve your public speaking skills so you can deliver powerful presentations.
Public speaking tips to improve your skills
Public speaking, as daunting as it is, is a learnable skill. It takes time and practice, but it can be learned, nevertheless. Make your presentations more dynamic by following the tips below.
1. Structure your presentation
Planning is everything, and you should structure your presentation solidly. Structure it around a core idea and keep returning to it so that your audience has something to takeaway. If you go off on lots of tangents or include too many different points, people will find it harder to remember what you’ve said.
2. Prepare for mistakes and potential questions
Mistakes can happen, so have a few one-liners prepared in case there are any hitches while you’re giving your presentation. If anything does go wrong, you’ll feel less awkward and so will your audience.
Although you can’t predict everything an audience will ask, try to anticipate questions they could ask you. Get to know your material as much as possible so you can answer questions more comfortably.
3. Know your audience
It’s essential to know who will be in front of you. This will help you tailor your presentation. You’ll be able to include the information they want to hear or need to hear and will also be able to engage them.
4. Open strong
You don’t have long to capture your audience’s attention. In just a few minutes, it can wander, so open strongly. This could be with a personal story, a shocking statistic, or a quote, but it must spark their interest and allow you to move from there.
5. Make eye contact with your audience
Public speaking can be so nerve-racking that it’s easy to focus wholly on your speech and forget about the people in front of you. Don’t. Make eye contact with them. Smile. This eases your nerves and builds rapport with your audience.
6. Don’t read word for word
Notes act as something of a crutch, so don’t read from them word for word, which is excruciating for your audience. It’s important to connect with the audience and have a real conversation. If you feel uncomfortable without your notes, stick to bullet points. Learn your material well enough to give you flexibility while you speak.
7. Be aware of your body language
Your body language will reveal a lot about what you’re thinking or feeling while you’re giving your presentation. Good presenters know this and will pay real attention to it. They’ll even use hand gestures, if appropriate, to reinforce their message. Other things to consider are matching your facial expressions with what you’re saying and reducing nervous habits such as throat clearing. This helps you to speak more confidently.
8. Use less text and more pictures
Confident speakers use little text and more pictures in their slides. They tell a story. The slides accompany their story. If you’re presenting at an event, or even just giving your presentation within your company, work with a designer to build an elegant slide deck. Speaking of storytelling….
9. Tell stories
Stories help people to pay attention and can make a presentation more engaging and easier to remember. A presentation should function more widely as a story, if possible. Two main elements you should include are the people involved, who can function as the focal point of the story, and an element that changes. A successful story must contain an element of change along the way.
10. Use pauses
Pausing is better than using filler words, such as ‘erm’, which make you look unsure of what you’re saying. If you’re speaking too fast, pausing will help you to breathe and slow down, and also looks as if you’re thinking about what you’re saying. Pausing strategically at the end of sections keeps you calm and gives your audience time to reflect upon what you’ve been saying.
11. Practise, practise, and practise
The more familiar you are with every aspect of your presentation, the more confidently you’ll come across to your audience, so practise not just expressing yourself, but also with any tools or technology you’re using. Practise with your body language. Practise in front of friends or relatives and get some feedback which you can use to improve your presentation.
12. Watch yourself later
If you can access any recordings of your presentation, watch them and see how you did. How did you handle interruptions? Did you stutter anywhere? Although you may not especially like to watch your own performance, this is a major way to identify any areas of weakness, work on them, and bolster your skills for the next presentation.
Book a public speaking course with us
If you’d like to brush up on your public speaking skills, book your place on our Public Speaking Masterclass. Our 1-day training course covers elements such as starting your speech, honing your personal style, and more, to help you speak powerfully in public.
As well as our Public Speaking Masterclass, we offer a range of courses to help you build and expand your leadership and management skills and become truly effective in your role. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, fill in the form on our Contact Page, or call us directly on 0161 826 3139 to find out more, or book your place on the course directly on the course page itself.
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