Being able to speak in public is a valuable skill to have in many professions. Here are our top tips for giving a presentation or speech
Reduce the need to worry by being as prepared as possible – practice your presentation or speech until you can say it without thinking, perform it in front of friends or family, revise for potential questions from the audience and whatever else you need to, so you know you’ve done everything you can to prepare.
2. Start with a bang
A great way to make sure you capture your audience’s attention from the beginning is with an impactful statistic, an interesting story, a compelling question or a thought-provoking quote. Once you’ve got their attention, they’re likely to be more engaged with what you have to say afterwards. Do the same thing at the end to increase the likelihood that they’ll remember you.
3. Make it about your audience, not you
The best way to connect with your audience is to put yourself in their shoes and think about what they would want to hear. Why are they listening to you? What is the most useful information you can possibly give them?
This is particularly useful if you are trying to promote a product or service with your speech - don’t jump straight into your pitch, but start by offering some genuinely useful advice or strategies.
4. Remember body language
Sometimes the more you try to appear natural when giving a presentation or speech the more you pay attention to what your limbs and your face are doing, and the more awkward you end up seeming. Where do you put your arms again? These quick tips should help with this:
- Stand up straight
- Make eye contact
- Be expressive – let your face communicate as much as your words
- Don’t hide behind the podium
- Walk around and use the space
- Keep your hands by your sides and remember to use hand-gestures – but not overly
5. Slow down
Firstly, remember your audience don’t know your speech as well as you do and they need to understand what you are saying. Secondly, speaking more slowly has more impact, as your audience will be more likely to hang on to your every word.
6. Swap ‘errs’ for silence
If you feel yourself saying “errr” when you lose your train of thought, swap this for silence. It will make you appear confident and collected and will add a dose of drama to your speech.
7. End with an action
Now you’ve given your audience all that information - what do they do with it? End your presentation or speech with a clear instruction for your audience. Do you want them to take your business card? Talk about your ideas on social media? Buy something?
Luckily, public speaking is a skill that can be learnt and improved with practice. The best thing you can do is start trying and learn from your mistakes - and remember that even the most seasoned public speakers get nervous.