Updated: Jun 7, 2020
Public speaking isn’t a skill that comes naturally to many people, but it’s a necessary skill to master. Capturing the attention of an audience and effectively articulating a message that you are passionate about is a tremendously gratifying experience. In this article we give you the tips you need to speak in front of any audience.
Preparing for your speech
Practice, practice practice. Even expert public speakers practice what they are going to say prior to going before an audience. Get acquainted with the content you are presenting, learn it in depth, and ensure that the flow makes sense. Once you’ve finally become comfortable with what you’re going to say and how to say it, practice again. Even the late Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was known to practice for hours prior to stepping on stage before a new product launch.
Rehearse in front of the mirror. Look at yourself while you are presenting. This will help you get a sense of how you will appear before an audience. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it, and your facial expressions and body language can speak louder than your words. Practicing in front of the mirror will help you own every part of your speech, from what you say to how you look when you say it.
Record yourself presenting. Recording yourself is key. When we take a pause or lose our train of thought, we have the tendency to use certain words or phrases to fill the empty space, such as “um”, “so”, or “you know”. Often times we don’t know that we use one of these phrases until it’s brought to our attention. Next time you are preparing for a speech, record yourself to determine which filler word(s) you use so that you can avoid them in the future.
Watch expert presenters. One good way to practice is to watch videos of experts present and learn the tactics they use that yield an alluring stage presence. Pay special attention to their voice inflection and mannerisms to understand what helps them grasp the attention of the audience.
Don’t memorize. One big mistake people make is memorizing their speech. Rather than memorize, use your time to understand the content you will be presenting. That way, if you are interrupted with questions by members of the audience or simply forget your train of thought, it won’t completely throw you off course.
Getting ready before your speech
Stay away from coffee. Coffee may make you feel more energized, but if you are nervous, it may also exacerbate your feelings of anxiety.
Take a deep breath. Pre-speech jitters are normal, and even the most well-versed speakers get them. Calm down and center yourself. Release any stress you have with each breath you take. Remember that you’ve practiced and that you are well prepared.
What to do during your speech
Connect with the audience. When you begin speaking, gauge the energy of the audience and meet them where they are. Speak to them in a manner that they can understand. If they look bored, draw them back in by changing your voice inflection or by making your speech interactive.
Take it slow. Without even knowing it, many speakers have the tendency to rush through their speech. Be conscious of your cadence and don’t let your nerves cause you to rush through the moment you’ve been preparing for.
Make eye contact. This goes hand in hand with connecting with the audience. Don’t stare at the slides you’re presenting; the slides are there as a visual aid for the audience. Instead, keep your eyes on the crowd.
Be articulate. Finally, ensure that you are speaking audibly and clearly. You’ve spent the time rehearsing, now it’s time to be heard.