In this four part series, we will delve into tips and tricks helping you brush up on your public speaking skills. Topics will include an introduction into public speaking, preparation for your speech, the execution, and overcoming anxiety.
Now that you have prepared for your public speaking engagement you are ready to execute your speech. Sounds simple enough, right? Not quite. There are many subtle factors that contribute to (and detract from) a speaker’s success on stage. Although these elements are not necessarily more important than your knowledge of the topic they can significantly increase or decrease your ability to effectively communicate with your audience. The following are all traits to keep in mind when public speaking to best impact your audience:
–Mind Tools recommends thinking positively before and during your speech. Doing so will not only help you to feel more confident when taking the stage but will also help you to relax if you start getting nervous.
-You may find it helpful to visualize yourself doing an excellent job as you prepare to take the stage. Visualization, the practice of imagining yourself successfully preforming a task, has been used by the best athletes and doctors, as Psychology Today points out, and can be used to help you gather your thoughts and boost your feelings of positivity going into your speech.
–Speak clearly and confidently. This will help the audience hear you and will get you on a roll helping you to move through your material in a way that is comfortable for both you and your audience.
–Mind Tools recommends paying extra attention to your body language while speaking. Remember to stand up straight, make eye contact with your audience, avoid fidgeting, avoid pacing, and move your body to accentuate points (such as moving across the stage when changing topics or using your hands to emphasize a point). Doing so will help you to appear more confident and prepared for your speech.
-On the topic of eye contact, if you plan to bring note cards on stage make sure you are not reading them word-for-word. Although you may be nervous, try preparing a bullet point outline of your speech along with transition sentences to keep yourself on track while on stage.
-If you are using a slideshow do not read off the slides. Slides should complement what you are saying, as Entrepreneur Magazine suggests. If you must use a slideshow, you should plan to use your slides to list main points for your audience but avoid using any long sentences.
-Most importantly, as you take the stage, remember that everyone in the room wants to see you succeed. Your audience is here to listen to your message and they want to learn as much as possible from the information you will be delivering.
While this list of tips is long and not all points will apply to each and every public speaking engagement you take part in, it is a good jumping off point to help your fine tune your speaking skills. You may also notice that your struggle with some of these bullets more than others-that is okay. The goal is not to be the most perfect public speaker each time you present information but rather to continually learn, practice, and improve your skill set each time you engage in public speaking. This task can be much more difficult for some people than others, however, so please check back next week for the conclusion of our Four Week Series on Public Speaking where we will be tackling the issue of speaking anxiety.
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