At some point in our lives, there comes a time that we would need to stand up in front of people and speak. Whether it’s to present your report to your team or pitch your business to investors, public speaking is a skill that will take you places. With a little guts and a lot of preparation, you can inspire and influence people to be better.
Here are five tips to help improve your skills in public speaking.
1. Get to know your audience.
It’s easy to talk in front of people, but it’s much more challenging to capture your audience’s attention. An awkward joke, an incorrect remark or a slight smirk can easily turn your audience off. So it makes sense to get to know who you are reaching out to. Use simple words instead of jargon so it will be easier to understand. Pay attention to your audience’s cues. Are they yawning, crossing their arms, or laughing at your jokes? Take note of their body language to gauge their reactions, because the best feedback is given to you directly.
2. Use the space you are provided.
Chris Rock took his job literally when he was starting out. As a stand-up comedian, he just stood while he delivered his skit. It was only until Eddie Murphy advised him to move around the stage to keep the audience’s attention. Because of this solid advise, Chris Rock’s career took a turn and dramatically changed how he performed.
Your movement and body language sends a powerful message to your audience. Movement creates emphasis on your words and message, and also helps your audience focus on you. Take advantage of your space while you talk. Go left or right when expounding on your ideas and make eye contact with people in the audience to help create intimacy. Go back to the center of the stage to create emphasis on the subject you are discussing.
3. Use your voice to capture your audience.
To be an effective speaker, you would need to slow down your pace. A lively conversation with a friend might take you about 400 words per minute, but speaking to an audience needs only about 140-160 words per minute. This will give your audience the chance to absorb the words you say and keep up with you. Speaking too fast makes you look nervous and unprepared, but Speaking slowly will give an impression that you are an expert in the subject you are discussing.
Your audience can also discern how sincere you are with the tone of your voice. Learn the right pauses in your speech. Talk as if you’re telling a story you love, create dialogues, and mix it with the right facial expressions to entice your audience to listen.
4. Relax and smile
You have the power to set the mood for the occasion, and it would be best to create a positive atmosphere. Smiling is the easiest way to connect to your audience and help them warm up to you.Relax and breathe correctly to help you focus. Breathing not only helps you feel at ease and improves your memory. It also helps you control your pitch, pauses and pace, which impacts how you deliver your message.
5. Practice makes you better.
Take the time to run your speech. Hearing yourself talk can help identify which parts need more work. Talk in front of a mirror so you could see your gestures and your movement. Listen to the weight of your words and see if you say them with conviction. Mastery is the key to your success, so practice, practice, practice.
Remember that it’s a privilege to be speaking for an audience, so take time to enjoy the moment because it’s much shorter than you think. It is your opportunity to influence and inspire people, so be sure to make it count.