“Oh, goody public speaking” (said almost no one ever).” If you want to be a good leader you need to be a good talker. Easier said than done, because it doesn’t matter if you’re speaking in front of three colleagues at the team meeting or three hundred delegates at a conference both can be equally intimidating. In fact, surveys have shown that most people would rather pass out than speak in front of an audience. Like anything though, practice makes perfect and with the right direction and guidance, of course public speaking is no different. These tips are proven to help you get the most out of public speaking. We have split the article into three separate sections: Before the talk, During the talk and Ending the talk. So here are our 5 Tips to Bring Your Public Speaking ‘A’ Game.
BEFORE THE TALK
1. To P or not to P? That is the question.
Unless you are a complete expert on the subject matter and never get flustered, you must do the work before you step up to the podium. Work on the fundamentals and do plenty of research on the subject matter and honing your overall message. Write the whole thing down with pen and paper as there is a scientific link that indicates writing things down helps you remember. Create some cue cards with the main discussion points as a backup. Rehearse in the mirror a couple of times and then try it out on a few people whose opinion you trust.
The 5P principle is a great summary for this:
2. Make your talk into a story.
There’s good reason for this, because people are absolutely hardwired to recall stories and they are a powerful tool for making your talk memorable. Think of the Dreamtime stories of Aboriginal people for example, they have been remembered for over 60,000 years. CEO, Nancy Duarte has written widely about utilising stories and offers useful techniques to draw them out in her Harvard Business Review article How to Identify and Tell Your Most Powerful Stories.
3. Body language for the win.
Body language and understanding how it works is fascinating and aids in conveying a strong message. The right body language will draw people to you. Some things to be aware of are:
- Smile. Even if you don’t feel like it because of the nerves. Why? Studies show that the act of smiling can make your brain think that it is actually happy. The brain then releases feel good chemicals which reduce stress. Lower stress levels means you give a better presentation.
- Stand up straight. This of course prevents slouching which suggests a lack of interest, energy and diminishes your overall presence. Project positivity by standing up straight and tall.
- Watch your tone. If you speak in a monotone no one will remember your talk as they will most likely be asleep in the first 5 minutes. Business Etiquette Expert, Jacqueline Whitmore suggests varying your pitch as it sends a strong message. Try these two things; make your voice go slightly lower for statements and end slightly higher for questions.
- Move your hands. In her article for Inc, Sabina Nawaz, CEO coach suggests using an open palm facing outward towards the audience to really amplify your message.
DURING THE TALK
4. Oops. What was I talking about again?
Being more than a bit nervous can make our brains temporarily freeze. It’s really no surprise that even seasoned professional public speakers such as politicians can make a mistake when public speaking. Most of us have been there so here are a couple of tips:
- See tip 1
- Breathe and relax then check your cue cards to help jog your memory
- Make it into a joke if you can because the ability to laugh at yourself is endearing
- Watch this short two minute video by Professor Amy Cuddy for more great ideas on how to recover from the mid talk brain freeze
ENDING THE TALK
5. Finishing strong.
The final words are what is most remembered about your talk, so finish strong. Here’s some final ideas on how to end things well.
- Try a quote “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” — Anne Frank
- Or use a Call to Action “Start your Journey toward making the world a better place. Volunteer today”.
Adding one of these tips will improve your public speaking skill set, combine all of them together and you will truly be connecting with your audience in a memorable way!
Public speaking tips sourced by Darren Cochrane, Senior Research Officer at Aboriginal Affairs.
The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only. It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone. If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.
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