How to Improve Public Speaking Skills: Tips & Techniques

Oct 15, 2020

Public speaking skills or presentation skills can really help you in your career, so it’s always a good idea to work to improve them. Mastering your ability to speak to a group of people will stand you in good stead when it comes to presenting or talking in a team meeting. And If you become a competent, able public speaker, you will be able to engage your audience and retain the audience’s attention.

In this article, we will take a look at some tips and techniques for improving your public speaking or presentation skills.

Plan

Spend as much time as possible planning out what you are going to say in your speech. Make sure your speech has a logical flow and that you cover everything that needs to be said.

The ability to speak well in public is fairly useless if what you are saying is no good. The ability to write a good speech or presentation is equally important.

Practice

The more you practice your speech, the better your delivery will become. You can’t become a compelling, confident speaker without a significant amount of practice. The content of your speech will become second nature and will roll off the tongue, making you feel much more comfortable.

Practicing with an audience is a great way of preparing yourself for the real thing. Practice the speech to someone and get them to give you feedback on your volume. Your speech will suffer if the audience can’t hear you properly, so make sure you are audible.

Recording and watching yourself back is a great way to figure out what you are doing well and what you are doing poorly while you are speaking, as you can get the perspective of both yourself talking, and a member of the audience.

A public speaker practicing with an audience
Image by ICSA from pexels.com

Control the speed of your speech

It is important to find the right balance between speaking in a calm, composed manner, and ensuring that you don’t speak too slowly, as the latter might be viewed as condescending, and the audience will eventually lose interest.

You also need to avoid speaking too quickly, as the audience won’t fully be able to understand what you are saying, and will miss key details. Getting this balance right will take time, but it is a valuable skill to learn for both the short and long term.

Engage the audience

Try not to be robotic, show as much of your personality as possible. An audience won’t be engaged by a talking head reading from a piece of paper. While you do need to show enthusiasm for what you’re talking about, overdoing it will result in the audience having an overall negative opinion of you. 

Make sure what you are saying is informative and try to make it as interesting as possible. Ensure the beginning and the end of your speech is as memorable as possible. Make sure your start really grabs the attention of your audience.

Try to make eye contact with everyone in the audience to really make them feel engaged with what you are saying. Focusing on one face at a time will make your speech feel more like a conversation, and make your audience feel involved.

A public speaker improving his public speaking skills by engaging with the audience
Image by fauxels from Pexels.com

Body language

Your body language is everything when it comes to being an engaging public speaker. Even if what you are saying is interesting, your audience won’t be engaged if your body language is poor.

Remember to stand up straight, take deep breaths and keep smiling. The way you present yourself is equally as important as what you are saying. 

Here are five tips for specifically improving your body language whilst presenting.

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Tailor to your audience

One of the most important things to keep in mind is what audience you are speaking to, as this can drastically change what you need to do to get your point across.

Verbal language is extremely important in achieving this. If you are speaking to experts, you can use more technical terms and still be understood. On the other hand, if you are talking to a more casual audience, you will have to use more general terms and potentially slow down your speech.

Humour is something that should also be tailored to a specific audience, and how or if you use it will depend largely on the audience you are presenting to.

Use visual aids

Images are a great way to make your speech more engaging, as your audience can see what you are talking about, rather than having to imagine it themselves.

This also means that the audience isn’t distracted by having to read what’s behind you, and is instead focusing on what you are saying.

Overcome Nerves

Before a speech or presentation, it is hugely beneficial to perform some deep breathing exercises. This will reduce the stress levels in your body by lowering your heart rate and your blood pressure. 

It is also important to get enough sleep each night, as it can help reduce anxiety and help you think more clearly, two things that are absolutely vital for public speaking.  

Practice and experience is arguably the best way to remain calm while speaking publicly. While this is not helpful in the short term, it is beneficial for the long term and will let you improve exponentially.

Featured photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

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