Productivity

6 Ways to Master the Art of Public Speaking

Lisa Evans
Written by Lisa Evans

Public speaking, love it or hate it, is is important to master when you’re in the small business game and fortunately, being able to speak with clarity and confidence whether you are talking to an audience of 5 or 500 is something which anyone can achieve.  

We are busy these days, there is so much ‘noise’ to cut through, and we are constantly competing with digital devices for people’s attention. As a business owner, it is essential to include speaking as part of your marketing strategy. Learn to improve your public speaking, and you will find the trust and credibility factor increase as well as your ability to connect and influence.

Here are six public speaking tips that when developed can be the difference between public speaking growing your business or grounding your business, because if you do a lousy job as a speaker, you don’t get asked back, and it can damage your brand and reputation.

1. Don’t be a time thief.

When you have been given 30 minutes to speak, then speak for 30 minutes. Nothing is more frustrating than a speaker who chooses to run over time. Respect the time and take responsibility to stay on track. I use an old Ipad for the sole purpose of timing myself while speaking so that I can gauge how long I have remaining.

2. Don’t read out loud.

If you are going to stand in front of an audience and read out loud, you can send a handout and save your time and theirs. There is no point at all in presenting something people can Google! Be conversational and don’t get stressed about sharing each word. Avoid writing out your speech word for word, and that will remove the temptation to read it.

3. Don’t cram in too much.

The curse of too much information is a common mistake. Less is often best. Jargon can also be the enemy of a useful message. It is best to leave your audience wanting more than stuffing them too full that they cannot take in what you are saying.

4. Don’t bore with bullet points.

Many speakers use slides to hide behind. You are the influencer in your talk, not your slides.  If you want to use slides, then create a stunning visual presentation that will contribute to the overall experience for your audience.

5. Don’t rock and roll.

Any unnecessary body movements can be distracting for the audience and can detract from your message. Stand tall and deliberate with confidence and poise.

6. It’s not a race.

If you have too much information, it’s tempting to speed up. Instead, speak at a steady pace so that people can hear you, and have you excellent articulation, pitch and tone.

If you are ready to step up and take your public speaking skills to the next level, find a coach, book a class or read some books, but remember not to imagine the audience naked – that has to be the worst tip ever!

7. Act confidently regardless of what’s going on inside

The actions of confidence come before the feelings of confidence. You cannot control your heart rate, any butterflies or trembling and sweaty palms, as that is part of the natural flight or fight response. What you do have the power to choose, is how you act. Stand tall, own the space and smile.

8. Practice, practice, practice

Winging it is not a strategy. To be a confident speaker and to appear effortless takes a lot of work. That’s the paradox, it takes a lot of effort to appear effortless.  The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel, and when you are super comfortable you can get out of your head and into your heart!

9. Never memorise your material

Being comfortable with your content is NOT memorising your material word for word. If you do you run the risk of forgetting one word and then not knowing what comes next. Be well practices with the beginning and the end and know what points you will cover in the middle and what stories you will add but be prepared to speak conversationally and don’t get caught up on each word.

10. Warm up your voice

Ensure your vocal chords are well hydrated starting the day before. Avoid tea, coffee and dairy (as it can coat the vocal cords and produce extra mucus and make you sound nasally), and avoid very cold water. I recommend sipping a hot, green tea such as ginger and lemongrass tea which is a wonderful vocal soothing drink.

If you are ready to step up and take your public speaking skills to the next level, find a coach, book a class or read some books, but remember not to imagine the audience naked – that has to be the worst tip ever!

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About the author

Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans is a Public Speaking and Storytelling Coach and is the Director at Speaking Savvy.

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