Developing Good Public Speaking Skills
Do you want to practice your public speaking skills but don’t know where to start? So does everyone else and you’ll be glad to know that it can be learned. Even the experts and masters still need to hone their craft by practicing in front of the mirror or taking lessons. Before we dive into it, let’s first know what public speaking is. It is talking to and conversing with a live audience, similar to what a teacher usually does in class. Good public speaking skills can give you an advantage in the workplace as many jobs require it and employers consider it as valuable as problem-solving and managerial skills. You may be asking now “so how can I be good at it?” This article will answer that question by teaching you different public speaking techniques.
The first thing you must learn as a public speaker is to be passionate. If you love the topic the audience will love it too. They will be more attentive, appreciative of the subject matter and carried away by your words even if you commit mistakes in tone or phrasing
2. Stick to the topic
A common mistake made by public speakers is rambling on. Always focus on the topic and avoid covering other matters as much as possible. You are speaking for a reason, do not stray from it. That way, the audience doesn’t get bored and confused with your message.
3. Back your points
All of us can say something we want but in public speaking, words must be backed with solid facts and pieces of evidence. Do not commit a faux pas by generalizing or saying something without proof. If possible, be specific with your points so that supporting it and persuading your audience can be easier.
4. Make your words flow
A good speech is composed of an introduction, middle (the “meat” of the speech) and closing. Your words must flow smoothly and logically from one part to the next so that the audience can follow your points. A good story also adds “flavor” to a speech so tell ones relevant to your topic. If it’s about corporate success, tell a story about a successful company. Take note that a story should add interest in the speech, not distract from it.
5. Have the presentation ready
A well-planned presentation makes your points clearer to the audience. It could be a graph, worksheets or slides but do try to include animations, videos and other things to grab your audience’s attention. The presentation must always coincide with your statements so that the audience can easily follow the flow of the speech.
6. Use a well-designed template for the presentation
Continuing from the previous point in # 5, if a presentation is to be used make sure it is well-formatted. Even the best speech can be ruined by a bad presentation.
A good public speaking skills require practice. Familiarize yourself with intonation, grammar, phrasing, and gestures. Try practicing your speech in front of a mirror or better yet a “practice” audience who can give feedback. The only surefire way to be comfortable with public speaking and determining the quality of your speech is to practice and see how it goes before the “main event”.
8. Find a coach
Hire one if you intend a career in public speaking, it is a job requirement or you just want to hone your public speaking skills. They are experts who can teach you the basics, point out your mistakes and even develop your “speaking style”. Approach your local club, school and public speaking organizations such as “Toastmasters International” for assistance if you cannot afford a coach.
9. Relax and calm your nerves
Everyone experiences “stage fright” when they become the center of attention. It is the feeling of being unable to do anything in front of many people which deters many from public speaking. Believe it or not, even long-time speakers feel it. They just practice and do something to relax before a speech to combat “stage fright”. Studies show that the more nervous you are the more likely you are to commit mistakes due to lack of composure and focus.
10. Stop worrying about mistakes
Public speaking is not foolproof so stop worrying and just proceed with the speech. If the audience is captivated or interested in your topic they won’t mind if you make a mistake or even stutter for a bit. Passion for the craft and love of your subject are more important than the “little details” in public speaking. However, you can lessen your worries through constant practice. If you do commit a mistake, just continue on as normal because as mentioned: if the audience loves your speech they won’t care if you flub a little.
11. Pace yourself
The mistake of speaking too fast or slow is usually made in public speaking. Anxiety and “stage fright” often causes the former while lack of practice or familiarity with the topic leads to the latter. Pace yourself through practice, the familiarity of the subject (or memorization of the speech), speaking normally, raising or lowering your tone when emphasizing certain statements and taking a short breath during pauses.
12.Use visual aids
Relative to the use of a presentation mentioned in # 5, you can use visual aids during your speech. If words cannot fully explain something then perhaps pictures can help. The visual aids should complement your speech, not distract the audience.
13. Dress appropriately
We usually dress in formal clothes when making a speech or listening to one. However, the speaker’s attire will depend on the event, occasion or event venue of the speech. A tuxedo or a coat and tie is appropriate for a gala or meeting but probably not ideal for simple celebrations such as birthdays or retirements.
14. Avoid “fillers”
We use “filler” words such as “uhm” and “uh” to continue with our train of thought while in a conversation. Their use is considered sloppy in public speaking. Memorize and practice the speech or “ad lib”, if the speech is an original composition, to avoid the use of “fillers”.
15. Use gestures
We normally use hand gestures to emphasize a point. The same thing goes for public speaking as a speaker looks more lively and passionate when using gestures. Pounding your fist downwards or raising it are some of the gestures used by speakers. Do not overdo it though for gestures should emphasize your points, not distract from them.
16. Allow the audience to ask questions
The public speaker speaks for a variety of reasons but often it is to raise awareness about something or to call others to action. You can allow the audience to ask questions about your speech. That way, you can further address concerns and clarify points. You can courteously ask for a contact number or email if you do not know the answer to a particular question so you can reach out to your audience once you know the answer.
You can now improve your public speaking skills with the 16 tips mentioned above. Now go visit your local public speaking club or friendly “Toastmasters International” and apply what you’ve learned. Always remember that champions are made and not born. The key phrases in developing your public speaking skills are “don’t be shy” and “practice makes perfect”.