Many people claim to fear public speaking more than death. We agree that it’s a challenging undertaking for anyone. If you regularly speak in public or it’s your first time in front of an audience, there are tried-and-true techniques to help you.
Rather than living in fear of your next speech, use these twenty tips to master the art of persuasive speaking.
#1 Watch The Experts
The best way to learn good speaking methods is by watching good speakers. 15 years ago, this would have been more difficult, but today you can quickly find good public speakers online.
#2 Know Your Material
Before you give your speech, do enough research to have a strong grasp of the subject matter. You do not want to forget an important fact.
#3 Take Notes
Although you do not want to read your entire speech off a script, writing down a brief outline will help you stay focused.
#4 Rehearse In Private
One of the most important keys to giving a strong speech is the practice. Rehearse your speech enough that you can (almost) say it in your sleep.
#5 Rehearse To a Small Audience
After practicing by yourself, give your speech to a small audience. After you finish, ask for feedback on your performance. You can then use this advice to perfect your presentation even more.
#6 Know Your Audience
Your speech should be carefully targeted to your audience. If you have to use terms that are unfamiliar to them, you will need to give the definitions.
#7 Know Your Surroundings
Before you give your speech, visit the place you will be speaking. If possible, you might even try to have a practice run on location.
#8 Dress Properly
Depending on your audience, you may need to dress formally or casually. In addition, dress in layers to prepare for a wide range of temperatures. Practice your speech in the clothes and shoes you plan to wear. You can make changes if they hinder you in any way.
Almost everyone feels nervous when speaking. Calm your nerves by pausing and taking a deep breath before starting your speech. Channel your nervous energy into enthusiasm.
#10 Realize The Audience Is On Your Side
Smile when you stand up to speak and look out to your audience. You’ll relax and so will they. Very rarely do audiences want a speaker to fail. Your audience will want you to succeed because they will gain something valuable.
#11 Start With An Intriguing Question or Fact
Most audiences subconsciously give the speaker 20 seconds to capture their attention. Engage your audience quickly with a engaging question or startling fact.
#12 Use Gestures
Do not be afraid to use hand motions. As long as you use them naturally, gestures will add to your speech.
#13 Use Visual Aids
In addition to gestures, visual aids can help keep visual learners interested. Using power points, charts or even blackboards to illustrate your subject will give both you and your audience a place to focus.
#14 Do Not Over-Use Visuals
Although visuals are very useful, if there are too many it can overwhelm your audience. Use visuals to support your topic. If something looks great, but doesn’t relate to your speech, it can distract your audience rather than increase their engagement.
#15 Speak With Conviction
If you want your audience to believe you, you have to first believe yourself. If you do not believe in what you talking about, do not give that presentation in the first place!
#16 Do Not Speak To Your Notes
First-time speakers are often tempted to talk to their notes. Instead, set yourself apart by speaking to surprise… your audience!
#17 Pause In Your Speech
Do not be afraid to add silence to your speech. In between transitions is a good place to take a pause. A quiet moment will help keep your audience with you and focused on your topic.
#18 Add Humor To Engage Your Audience
Although too many jokes can ruin your persuasiveness, the occasional humorous anecdote will add levity to your speech and engage your audience.
#19 Don’t Apologize For Nervousness
Some speakers feel a need to apologize to their audience for sounding nervous. Don’t do this! Not only does this mistake detract from your persuasiveness, but it will not be useful information for your audience. Overcome your nerves by engaging with the material you are presenting. It’s what you’re there to share and what your audience wants to learn.
#20 Prepare a Good Ending
Rather than mumbling, “Well, I guess that’s it”, as you slowly back off the platform, plan a strong ending and thank your audience. One ideal ending is a call to action. For instance, in speech about blogging, I might end with, “Thank you for joining me today. Now, go and start your blogging career!”