Not everyone is naturally good at speaking in public. Many people get nerves and refuse to do it, because they start imagining lots of worst case scenarios when the subject of public speaking even comes up. Unfortunately public speaking can be a part of a job, and if you want to climb higher up in a business you may have to learn to speak up at meetings or give presentations. If you don’t like public speaking, or think that you are not good at it, try following some of the tips below:
1. Look your audience in the eye
Even though it may feel very awkward and unnatural at first when you start speaking in public, try to make eye contact with the people. It is hard to look at everybody at once, but try to look into people’s eye for 3 to 5 seconds at a time as you are speaking. This way you will feel connected to the audience, and you will feel closer to them instead of further away. When people speak in public and look down at their shoes or a piece of paper that they are holding, they automatically seem distant and it can become irritating to listen to a person.
How much practice you are going to need depends on what you are going to speak about, but it is better to always practice before talking to an audience. If you are feeling insecure about what you have to say, it is a good idea to practice with a few people (or one person) that you feel comfortable with. Ask them what they think of your speech, and if they have any advice to give you. You can also practice alone by looking into a mirror. Lots of people are afraid that they are going to get a black-out on stage, but if you practice before you have to give your public speech you will feel a lot more secure and you are less likely to forget parts of your speech.
While in some situations notes are okay (like in a meeting, it is pretty common to have a few notes on the table about what you are speaking about), but often they are more of an obstacle than you think. If you rely on notes, you come off as less convincing. It is better to appear as if your speech is spontaneous (even though most people realize that it isn’t), because you will look more interesting.
4. Watch your speech
If you speak louder, you are going to come off as powerful. It gets irritating when somebody is speaking and you can’t hear what they are saying because they talk too quietly, and it also makes them look like amateurs. When you are speaking to an audience about your company or about an idea that you have you are going to want to change people’s minds or convince them that you are right. Your speech makes a lot of difference. Another thing to watch is how many times you say words like ‘uh’, ‘like’, and ‘you know’. You want to appear intellectual, powerful and convinced of what you’re saying. Don’t make it sound like you’re trying to convince yourself, because you should be convincing them.
5. To the point
When you start your speech, get to your point as fast as possible. Make sure that you look like you know what you are doing and don’t start up with an endless line of jokes and chitterchat, because people want to know what you have to say. In the middle of your speech you can tell a few jokes to lighten the mood and of course you can show images and video material, but you want to start your speech strong and make a lasting impression. Find a good line to end your speech with, smile to the audience, and get off the stage.
You may think that other people are just naturally good at public speaking or that they never get shy, but that is often not true. It takes practice to become a good public speaker. After you have spoken in public a few times you will become less shy automatically, and you will also look like a natural.