Nearly everyone feels nervous to some degree prior to a public speaking engagement. Whether it is in front of a large or small audience, it is natural to want the process to go as smoothly as possible. It is important to develop public speaking skills in order to effectively relay the intended message to the audience in an engaging manner. By following several tried and true public speaking tips, you can learn to communicate clearly and eloquently when speaking at events.
Utilizing visual aids and PowerPoint is an extremely effective way to keep an audience's attention. Some individuals absorb information best in an auditory form, while others respond better to visual stimulation. Using both speech and visuals, when addressing a group of people, ensures that the message gets across. Before using computer-based visuals run through the presentation several times to make sure that all of the components are working. The presentation should be moderately colorful, simple, applicable to the topic, and contain a minimum amount of slides. Use large, bold text that is easy to read and when possible use bullet points as opposed to full sentences. A rule of thumb is no more than six words per slide. Stock photography and clear, simple graphs, charts, or diagrams are a great way to emphasize points.
Speakers should remember that visual aids are simply aids and shouldn't be the basis of the speech. Make sure to change slides slowly, allowing the audience to digest the information. Text and graphics that fly around and change quickly are distracting. Don't read the slides. Instead expand upon the points that they illustrate while maintaining eye contact. While the speech is important, maintaining contact with the audience in the future is integral to marketing oneself, a business, a product, or idea. Finish the presentation with a slide that features PresentNow.me, a lead capture tool for presentations. Speakers will be able to connect with their audience, capture the audience members' contact information, and provide a code for the audience to enter at PresentNow.me. The audience can request more information and the speaker can follow up with messages and e-mails for marketing purposes.
One of the most effective public speaking tips is the use of humor. In the majority of cases, a funny anecdote or appropriate, non-offensive joke is acceptable. Laughing breaks the ice between the speaker and the audience. It is also a way to add interest to dull topics and create rapport with listeners. Mild self-effacing jokes or humorous anecdotes about the speaker's own life are the least likely to offend anyone. They let the audience know that you do not take yourself too seriously and add a fresh spin to a speech. Speakers should relax and pretend as if they are entertaining guests in their own home. Make jokes that are related to the topic that is being discussed.
If you hear a light-hearted joke that pertains to your topic, it can be helpful to write it down and rehearse it later. This will allow you to ease it into a presentation and make the delivery seem natural. Remember timing is key. Distribute eye contact evenly throughout the audience and fully commit to the joke. If it doesn't elicit any laughs continue with the presentation as planned and don't panic. Always use humor sparingly. It is much more appropriate to be mildly amusing then having audience members rolling in the aisles with laughter. Humor is perfect for engaging listeners when used in moderation, yet too much humor can distract them from the topic at hand.
Standing up in an unfamiliar place in front of strangers can be nerve wracking. Arrive at the location of the speaking engagement early and walk around the room, stand at the podium or on the stage, and familiarize yourself with the layout of the room. This will allow you to feel more comfortable in the space. Be sure to practice using the microphone and do a run-through of any visual aids that will be used. Familiarity breeds confidence which will make the speech go much smoother.
In addition, arriving early allows you to greet audience members as they enter. Take a moment or two to look them in the eye, introduce yourself, and get a feel for them. Knowing the audience enables you to find a tone and style of delivery that suits the listeners. It is much easier to speak in front of people that you have met instead of complete strangers. When you introduce yourself you are also creating a connection with members of the audience. You will be more memorable, making keeping in touch with audience members, through tools such as PresentNow.me, much more effective. Maintaining communication before and after a speech is a powerful tool for marketing.
Try using deep breathing or listening to relaxing music prior to public speaking. When a speaker is relaxed they are less likely to stumble or forget parts of the speech. It is also easier to keep the audience's attention and allow them to soak up the information if you sound natural and authoritative. When you reach the podium it is best to take a deep breath, wait a few seconds, and then address the crowd. This gives you time to calm your nerves and gather your thoughts. Visualizing the speech going well and receiving a positive response from the audience is a confidence building technique that can be used shortly before speaking. Confidence is key in relaying a message to others.
If you make a mistake or have a moment of nervousness in the speech, you shouldn't apologize to the audience. Instead, carry on as seamlessly as possible. It is more than likely that no one noticed an error. By focusing on the content of the speech and the audience, this takes mental energy and focus away from one's own anxieties. Drawing attention outward can help improve concentration and alleviate uncertainty.
Even if you are delivering a speech containing material that you are familiar with, it is still beneficial to conduct research when writing the content. Get to know the topic inside and out. Know more than what you include in the presentation. By having thorough knowledge of a topic you will be able to answer questions and even throw in information if you lose your place or make a mistake.
Knowing your material will bolster your confidence. If you feel like an authority on a topic, you will sound like an authority on a topic. When a speaker is knowledgeable the audience trusts the information they are receiving and is more likely to be persuaded by your ideas and arguments. When using public speaking as a marketing tool, it is crucial to be well-versed on the subject. An audience wants authenticity, compelling facts and figures, and new, fresh information.
This may seem obvious, but a lack of preparation can result in a poor performance. Trying to coast through a speech or presentation is never a good idea. By being prepared you are giving the audience the message that you find them important enough to put in a solid effort to impress them. Reading off of index cards or notes and failing to maintain eye contact will not engross the listeners and it makes you forgettable as a speaker. It may also cause people to question your expertise on the subject.
Practice reading the speech aloud in the mirror. You will be able to pinpoint clunky sections that disrupt the flow of the presentation, redundancies, and errors. Refine the speech and practice again. While you don't need to entirely memorize a speech, and notes can be helpful for quick glances, it is important to know the core of the material by heart. Once you have edited and have the speech under your belt, practice aloud using your visual aids, slides, and any other equipment you will be using. This will enhance the continuity of your presentation and help you to avoid pauses while working with the equipment. Another great tip for public speaking is practicing the speech with a timer. Allow room for the unexpected and have extra information prepared in case you need to fill in any space left towards the end of your presentation.
Businesses and individuals who will be using a public speaking engagement as a form of marketing want to remain in the forefront of the audience's mind. Following up with an e-mail and cultivating an e-mail list of audience members will help you reinforce your message. PresentNow.me is an excellent tool for quickly collecting the contact information of those present at the speaking engagement. Not only will you be able to follow-up, but audience members can use a code, that you provide, to contact you with questions or comments. Maintaining a relationship with your audience after the speech creates the necessary connections to drive business or promote yourself.