Public speaking is an incredibly important skill, and not just needed by professional speakers. Whether you are an insurance agent making cold calls all day, a teacher at the front of the classroom, or an engineer who needs to present their ideas to an executive board, knowing how to communicate information clearly and concisely to an audience is a necessary skill.
However, there are tons of people who are scared of public speaking, and that’s ok. Although it’s a common fear, it is usually unavoidable. So instead of cowering away, here are some tips to turn you into a pro for your next presentation.
1. Own your Fears
Take a deep breath and admit that you’re nervous. Even the best speakers get nervous before a presentation. It is a normal feeling, and it does not mean you are doomed to fail. Remember, the people you are speaking to are also people. No one is perfect and your audience likely shares your fear of public speaking with you.
2. Don’t Write a Script
This is the biggest mistake out there. People will spend hours, even days, creating the perfect speech. Unless you’re the president or have a teleprompter in front of you, DO NOT DO THIS!
Many people when reading from a script will get tripped up on one word and then lose their momentum from there. Plus, when someone is reading from a script you can tell it’s not natural, and your audience will lose focus.
Instead, create bullet points. Using an outline of what you want to say ensures that you will cover all the talking points you want but in your own words. Doing this takes some practice, but it’s a more natural feel, and your audience will notice.
3. Speak like you Normally Would
Often, people who are not great public speakers tend to rush through their talking points. When giving your speech remember to do things like pause or give the proper enunciation to words you normally would.
Just because you are giving an important speech, it doesn’t mean you have to talk differently than normal. You want to give your audience a chance to think when you ask a question, laugh when you tell a joke, or clap when you make a point worth celebrating.
4. Watch your Movements
How you control your body is incredibly important when on stage or at the front of a room.
For starters, while over expressive hand gestures are great for driving points home at the bar, try to limit them when you’re making a speech. This one is tricky because it is so natural, but with practice and awareness, it can be easy to master.
The other movements to watch out for are where your body is on stage. You don’t want to stand there still, unless at a podium. You generally want to walk around the stage. But don’t overdo it. The
best thing to do is stand in one spot for 1-2 talking points and then move to another spot on the stage for another 1-2.
If you’re not sure what we mean, try watching other speakers or stand-up comedians, as they are masters at using body language to drive points home.
5. Good Practice Makes Perfect
Practicing your speech in your room alone is good, but not great. Give your speech to some friends or family to get feedback on whether your speech flows well and makes sense.
Further, while this might be embarrassing to watch, record yourself giving your speech. You might think you have your body movements under control but watching yourself give a speech is the only way to be sure. If this is too much, try practicing in front of the mirror so you can still look at how you present the material.
Public speaking can be stressful, even for the most veteran speakers. But with practice and a couple of simple tricks, you can become as good as anyone overnight. Remember, take a deep breath and remember your audience is human