We all have to speak in public from time to time, whether it’s contributing to a team meeting or delivering a presentation to a large group of people. Public speaking is a key leadership skill to have; it is valuable in both our personal and professional lives and can enhance future career opportunities. The pressure of speaking in public however can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for an individual who perhaps lacks in confidence, and this can result in a poor delivery. According to the Daily Mail, public speaking is one of the most common fears in women.
Getting the message across can be difficult if you don’t plan ahead and understand the audience’s mindset. One of the top keynote speakers on branding will tell you that. Take the time to research what you are saying and who you are sharing it with, and at the start of your presentation, tell your audience what they can expect. Below are some effective ways to ensure your presentation is received well:
Don’t let nerves get the better of you
First things first, to deliver a memorable speech, you’re going to need to overcome the nerves. Easier said than done, but when you learn how to control them, you can use the adrenaline to stay alert and be more enthusiastic. Many people will try to rush when they’re speaking in public but it is important to breathe slowly and take your time. One of the biggest mistakes people make is being unprepared. If you know you are going to be delivering a presentation or speech, start preparing as soon as possible. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to practice and the more you’ll know the content inside out. Remember that people in the audience want you to succeed, as they want to take something away from it too. You are there to help or educate them in some way so think about them, not you.
Think about how you present yourself
This is where your appearance, posture and body language comes into play. The way you present yourself will make a difference in whether your speech is memorable or not. If you deliver with passion, this will come across to your audience who will then take your message more seriously. Giving advice about public speaking, Speaker Mentor, Deborah Meaden, told the BBC:
“Find the thing that you are passionate about. Automatically you’ll deliver it with conviction. You believe, they’ll believe it”.
Dress smartly and stand tall, with shoulders back and your chest out, don’t slouch or lean and remember to smile. Walk around and use gestures to engage with your audience and make sure you keep your eyes up and focused on them to ensure each individual feels connected.
Enliven the delivery and make it interesting
One of the best ways to convey a message is to add variation to your presentation. It can be difficult to captivate an audience by simply talking for 30 minutes, but there are a number of things a speaker can introduce to enliven the presentation. By mixing up your speech, you have a better of chance of reaching a broader range of people. Visual aids such as photos, graphs and data can be extremely effective, and videos can be powerful too. Don’t try and be too clever though; if you’re new to public speaking, stay within your comfort zone, for example don’t plan a 10 minute video spectacular if you’ve never done it before!