May 22, 2017

How to Improve your Public Speaking Skills

By Laeeka Khan 

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We’ve all hear that famous anecdote. If you ever have to get up and deliver a speech, imagine for a moment that everybody is naked and your public speaking phobia will go away. More disconcerting than inspiring. I’m sure you will agree.

Whichever walk of life you may come from, know this. In your working life, you will be called upon at some point to address a crowd of people or talk about something of an impromptu nature.

The question is; ‘Are you ready for this?’

Why is public speaking an important skill to have?

Even if you don’t have your sights set on being the next TED Talk speaker, the essence of life and getting things done, hinges on clear communication. Even if it is not a speech, you will at some point be required to do a bit of public speaking. This can take the form of giving a speech, presenting at a conference, speaking about a product or introducing someone new to an office environment. A large part of public relations training and interfacing with people in business calls for strong public speaking skills.

Public speaking fears

If the prospect of public speaking gives you the heebie-jeebies, take a deep breath. Help is at hand. Before you work yourself into a state of panic, know that there are some very real and practical tips that will get you through your public speaking fears. All you have to do is take a deep breath and commit to the process.

Public speaking tips

Take the time look at your public speaking material beforehand

If you have arrived at a place in your career where you have somebody else write your speeches, you will really want to pay attention to this point. No matter how well versed you are in your subject, take the time to scan through the points that you have written down. It just shows a greater sense of respect for the people that you are about to speak to.

Is the material easy to consume?

No matter what it is that you are speaking about, even if it is information-dense it can be delivered in a manner that is engaging and exciting.

  • Tell a story
  • Get into character
  • Get your audience on their feet and ask them to participate in an ice-breaker

Whatever you do, find ways to ensure that your audience remains plugged in and riveted to what you’re saying.

Know your subject

When it comes to public speaking, people can sense your enthusiasm and understanding of a subject from mile away. If you truly are a person who lives, breathes and eats what you are talking about, it will be evident in what you say. If you have the option to express yourself in terms of what you are passionate about, why would you want to do things any other way?

Look the part- Dress to Impress

Remember, when you address people, the words coming out of your mouth are not the only things that they notice. You will be up there and in the limelight, every element of your dress and appearance will be under scrutiny. Dress up, not just for show and appearances but as a way of showing your audience that you care. Embody your power. Presentation skills come not just from what you say but also how you communicate yourself.

Be aware of your surroundings and venue dynamics

If you’ve been given a speaking engagement, make sure that you get to your venue a little early. Take a few minutes to become aware of your surroundings and the platform that you will be speaking on. If you are incorporating music or video into your speech be sure to ask for audio-visual equipment and technical assistance in advance. You will also need to use your space dynamically when you move around. Make sure that you get a sense of the weak and strong spots on the floor.

Keep thumb cards to a minimum

There’s nothing that spells being insecure more than reams of paper or little thumb cards with elaborately scrawled notes. Beside the fact that you are delivering a speech on a certain subject you are also representing yourself as a brand. The people that you are speaking to are looking to you as an expert on a matter. Show up, deliver to the best of your ability and inspire them.

If you are at ease, your audience is at ease

If you really take the time to know your subject inside out, your expertise on the subject will show. When you talk to your audience, not only are you sharing information with them, you are also communicating your energy. Hold the floor, make use of inflection, and use your tone of voice and its resonance to create an impact.

Are you speaking powerfully? Take a look at this thought-provoking video

Effective Presentation Skills for Public Speaking

Speech presentation skills: Relies on more than just delivering facts and information. You have to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach and offer information in engaging ways. Here are some quick pointers that will help you along the way.

Make use of humour: People love the unexpected element of humour in a public address. Tell a funny story, crack a joke if it fits into your delivery.

Deliver statistics or information: To make your subject delivery that much richer, deliver statistics and information in your speechmaking. Support what you are talking about with some serious gravitas.

Be profound: If people really resonate with the subject that you are talking about you could easily pull on their heart strings. If you think about it, your speech could have the power to move people to tears or spur them into action.

Make use of positive body language: One of the ways to set your audience at ease is to make use of body language. In this way you can build relatability and trust. Smile, do a wide sweep of the arm, click your fingers, nod your head. Engaging with your audience subliminally is just as important as the words that come out of your mouth. 

About the Author
Media professional, senior writer and blogger at Educor Holdings.

I blog about matters that relate to education and personal development. I am an out-of-the-box thinker, fascinated with perceptions of the mind’s eye, the power of imagination and creative learning. I am passionate about the human experience, and an avid believer in dialogue, breaking stereotypes, sharing information and the power of the arts. I also appreciate fine coffee and dark chocolate. Join me on this journey of knowledge and exploration.

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