Tips for Public Speaking

For many entrepreneurs or small companies, presenting in front of an audience is your chance to raise awareness about your service and brand. It is an exciting opportunity to be able to introduce your company to the world. In order to be prepared for this opportunity I have put together some helpful tips that are sure to boost your confidence and improve your public speaking ability.

The first half of advice consists of increasing your knowledge. In order to deliver a great presentation you need to be knowledgeable of your audience, material, and setting.

Research your audience. In order to connect with your audience you need to understand why your topic is important to them. It is important not to assume that the audience members are all alike. What are their interests? Are there any cultural differences? The more you understand them the better you will be able to express yourself to them and will avoid insulting them.

Talk the talk. It is important to know every detail about the topic you are presenting. By knowing every detail of your topic you are able to use conversational language. Once you understand the material, what you say will come more naturally rather than sounding like a robot focusing on memorizing every detail.

Another helpful tip is to be familiar of the room or environment you are going to be presenting at. Visit the location of the presentation prior to the event to see how the room will be laid out and take note if you need to make any necessary changes in order to incorporate your visual aid equipment.

The second half of advice in becoming an amazing presenter is the power of practicing.

Practice, practice, practice.  It is important to set aside enough time to rehearse your speech before the actual date you are scheduled to present.  When rehearsing remember the following suggestions:

  • Make sure you are using all the equipment you plan on using for your actual presentation. Therefore if there are any problems with your visual aids you can revise your presentation as necessary.
  • Work to control filler words such as (um, like, ah).
  • Avoid using notecards during your presentation. If you choose to use notes during your speech it is important to not read word-for-word off the cards. Instead, make a list of topics that you want to address throughout your presentation.
  • Incorporate pausing and taking breaths throughout your presentation.
  • Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.
  • After knowing the environment you will be presenting at, you can adjust the volume and tone of your voice so that everyone in your audience can hear and understand you clearly. Also, be mindful of your speed. Talking too fast will only confuse your audience.
  • I highly suggest practicing in front of your friends and/or family. By having an audience it will allow you to take your rehearsal seriously and give you the opportunity to ask for feedback on your material and performance.

Another important factor when practicing your speech is to integrate body language into your presentation. 

Many presenters are unaware of the impact that body language can have on an audience. The body language you display during your presentation will give your audience constant and subtle clues about your inner state. For example if you are constantly fidgeting with your hands, your audience may assume you are nervous or do not believe in what you are saying. 

In order to be portrayed as confident make sure you stand up straight you’re your shoulders back, and remember to look your audience in the eye and smile. Try not to lean on one leg or use gestures that feel unnatural.

If you are given the option to use a podium you should be aware that sometimes standing behind a podium might hurt your credibility. You do not want to use your podium as a means of hiding from your audience. If you would like to use the podium make sure you still incorporate body movement throughout your presentation. Work the room and share your energy with your audience, this will make you a more passionate and active presenter.

The last important aspect to remember in becoming a strong presenter is to relax. Begin your presentation by addressing the audience. By including this into your introduction it buys you time to calm your nerves.

Pauses play a very important part to any presentation. Incorporating them into your speech will make you sound more confident, natural, and authentic. Before you begin your speech, try pausing, smiling and counting to three before saying anything. Pay attention to how fast you are speaking and make sure you are annunciating your words.  If you are nervous, you may be talking more quickly and this will increase your chances of tripping over your words or saying something you do not mean. If this occurs, just force yourself to slow down by breathing. Do not be afraid to pause, gather your thoughts, and begin your presentation again.

The last thing you should note is that the more experience you gaining speaking in public the more confident you will become. Every time you present make sure your speech represents you and your message. Confidence is the key to effective speaking. 

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