Top 5 Tips How To Improve Public Speaking
12 January 2023
Looking how to improve public speaking? Check out our tips below to make your public appearances stand out. Typically presentations are too long, too Powerpoint heavy, and lacking in pizazz because too many speakers don’t do enough to improve their public speaking. We’ve all sat through long presentations where the world expert on a subject read off their slides, or delivered brilliant ideas in a monotone. In 2023, how can you be responsible for making that change for the better?
Subject matter experts are rarely stage-or media-ready as engaging spokespeople, but the good news is that these are skills that can be easily taught. Here are our top five tips for nailing a speech at a conference or event:
1. It’s all about your audience
The worst presentations ignore the people in the room. Like any form of communication, the secret is knowing what your particular audience wants to hear – and then delivering that. Ask yourself: what’s keeping them awake at night? What brought them to this room? How do they feel about your topic? And what one thing do you want them to take away? Be specific. If you can please the audience you have in mind, you can please more.
2. “If you take away nothing else…”
Focus on one idea or one main thread, and do it thoroughly. If your audience can follow the progression of that idea from start to finish in your talk, they’re far more likely to remember it.
When the media and internet are replete with information, the true value of hearing someone speak at a conference is in narrative and practical simplicity. Strip your talk back to basics and focus on seeing one thought through to its end conclusion, taking your audience along for the journey.
Give your audience the feeling they’ve travelled with you – an emotional journey, a journey of discovery, or just a logical progression in your argument – and they’ll remember how that made them feel.
3. Learn to love any nerves
Most of us get nervous before any kind of public speaking because of the fear of giving the wrong impression or ‘getting it wrong’. Try to reframe your nerves as a form of energy and excitement; you want to get this message right because it matters to you. You’re excited to deliver it to this particular audience and have an effect on them, whatever that might be.
Nerves are part of your natural stress response to situations that trigger your flight or fight mechanisms, but they can be somewhat defused. Try taking a deep breath in for a count of four, holding for four, and then releasing for six. This kind of ‘triangle breathing’ triggers your parasympathetic nervous system, and can be done while you’re waiting in the wings or quietly on stage, with no one the wiser.
4. Modulate your tone, and don’t forget to hit pause
Slow down, remember to breathe and to vary the pitch of your voice. Monotone and mono-pace speeches send the audience to sleep; hold their attention by playing around with your delivery. It’s worth practising this beforehand thoroughly. Film yourself speaking and watch it back, and ask someone you trust for their feedback on a run-through to rule out any mannerisms you might not know you have!
Pauses are a powerful too. Use them as time to collect: for your audience to hover on an important point, and for you to collect yourself before moving on. Done right, they can add real gravity to statements, as well as forcing your audience to pay closer attention to what comes next.
5. Vary your methods
Once you know what you plan to focus on, think about ways to bring that idea alive to your audience. Don’t tell us your idea, show us.
Think about weaving in stories – narratives with clear characters and a beginning, middle and end. Bring in props or use the stage space in an interesting way. Consider humour (carefully!) and whether jokes can put the audience at ease. Diagrams and images, particularly including human faces, grab attention and can add much-needed colour to an idea. Think about involving your audience.
If you are looking how to improve public speaking skills ready for a conference or important meeting we can help, contact us today!