Speaking in front of a live audience to educate, persuade, or entertain your listeners is known as public speaking. Public speaking is a primary step that includes formal public speeches delivered in front of large audiences, such as a keynote address at a conference, and more informal lectures delivered in front of smaller audiences, such as a toast at a dinner party. A public speaker’s ability to engage their audience requires practical verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
5 Reasons to Practice Public Speaking
Good public speaking can help you in both your personal and professional life, and they are worth honing for a variety of reasons:
- To boost your confidence: Overcoming your fear of public speaking gives you poise and reduces your anxiety in social situations.
- To help with career advancement: Whether they help you perform better in job interviews or ace a big presentation, practical public speaking skills are essential for anyone aspiring to be a workplace leader.
- To improve your communication skills: Learning public speaking skills will cause you to reflect on and improve your overall communication abilities. This allows you to break bad habits and become a better communicator.
- To broaden your social and professional networks: The more engaging and compelling you are when speaking, the more people will want to interact with you. The confidence you gain from honing your public speaking skills also increases your likelihood of approaching and conversing with potential new friends and business partners.
- To increase your influence: Public speaking is an excellent tool for spreading your message. Whether your goal is to advocate for a significant political cause or to tell a funny story to a group of friends, improving your public speaking skills makes it easier to influence your audience’s reaction.
10 Public Speaking Tips
Most people find public speaking difficult, but if it’s something you struggle with, start small. Begin by gaining speaking experience in low-pressure situations in front of small groups, and then progress from there. As you practice these public speaking tips, you’ll feel more comfortable in front of an audience.
- Understand your target audience: Preparation equals assurance. Even those who embrace the stage and appear to improvise their way through a great speech have some pre-planned talking points. The way you present those points should be easy for your audience. Before you outline your address, consider what your audience wants to hear.
- Visualize your success: Worrying about failing in front of a crowd is natural, but negative thoughts only make you nervous. Instead, visualize yourself hitting it out of the park moments before you take the stage, and imagine how great you’ll feel once it’s over.
- Make use of visual aid: Visual aids are commonly used by public speakers in more formal speaking situations to help them deliver a more effective presentation. PowerPoint slideshows are a great way to make sure your audience remembers your key points. Visual aids such as charts, graphs, photos, and videos can also add context to your speech’s information.
- Tell a personal story: Engaging your audience is necessary for effective communication during a speaking engagement. If you can incorporate yourself into your talking points, you’ll demonstrate that you believe what you’re saying.
- Understand where to look: Look just over the crowd’s eye line if you’re speaking to a large group. It will give the impression that you’re looking at everyone while also providing you with the personal comfort of not being constantly reminded of the crowd’s intimidating size. Find that one person in a smaller group who is making direct eye contact with you and hanging on your every word. Talk to them. They will instill confidence in your speech. The audience member who is looking at their phone will be closed.
- Only make a list of the bullet points: It may be tempting to write out your entire speech and read from a prepared script, but your words will not sound genuine if you read them verbatim from a piece of paper rather than addressing your audience directly. Even if you’re not reading from a script, delivering a memorized speech will make you sound stiff. It does not preclude you from taking notes. Using index cards with bullet points can help you remember important concepts.
- Keep things simple: You don’t have to wow your audience with sentence structure. It would help if you kept their attention with short phrases and quick, snappy stories. Audiences’ attention spans are always limited, and your speech should reflect that. However, your speech will not always be a success. When that happens, there’s not much you can do but keep talking like you’re killing it and get through what you came there to say.
- Recognize and eliminate your vocal tics: You might be prone to using filler words and phrases like “you know,” “um,” and “like,” so pay attention to your speech patterns or watch a video of yourself speaking to become aware of your unwanted verbal practices. Perfecting your diction and enunciation takes time and effort, but it will be well worth it when you take the stage to speak in front of an audience.
- Use positive body language: A friendly smile and good posture will help engage your audience. Also, move when speaking instead of remaining stationary or hiding behind a podium. Walking around and making active hand gestures generates energy to keep your audience’s attention and makes you appear more enthusiastic about your topic.
- Practice: Nobody becomes an expert on their first try, so the more you practice, the easier it will become. When you can speak in front of others, please take advantage of it. While rehearsing alone isn’t as beneficial as practicing in front of an audience, it would help you become more passionate and confident in your abilities.
Positive thinking can make a significant difference in the success of your communication.
Fear makes it all too easy to fall into a cycle of negative self-talk, especially suitable before speaking, while self-sabotaging thoughts like “I will never be good at this!” or “I’m going to fall flat on my face!” undermine your confidence and inhibit your success.
To boost your confidence, use affirmations and visualization. This is especially important before delivering a speech or giving a presentation. Consider giving a successful presentation and imagining how you’ll feel once it’s over and you’ve made a difference in the lives of others.
Written By: HAMMAD KHAN