Public speaking, some people love it, some are terrified by it. There are so many articles regarding how to prepare yourself for speaking engagements that it’s overwhelming. From the old school advice of picture everyone in the room without clothes. To the look at everyone directly in the eye when you are speaking.
Advices come and go, but there are a few strategies that remain, and these are the ones proven successful when addressing a group of people.
1. Practice makes perfect.
Practice your speech a few weeks ahead of the big day. Use this time to master each word that comes out of your mouth. Record yourself and see how fast or slow you are speaking, watch your body language and how you are using your hands to address the audience.
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Know every word of your speech but give it personality, make it your own, make it unique.
As you’re practicing see how different your speech would be if you change your tone of voice in certain parts. Know the subject of your speech well, confidence is crucial when addressing an audience and it will show on stage how confident you are.
2. Practice with an audience.
You’ve practiced your speech by yourself for some time now, but what about in front of an audience? One of the best ways to practice your speech is to practice it under conditions that will resemble the day of your speech. Practice in front of a small group of people, to build your confidence that way when you hit the stage you won’t get flustered by the amount of people you’ll see.
3. Hook your audience’s attention.
It’s no secret that capturing your audience’s attention early on is one of the fundamental points in public speaking. You should deliver your big idea or proposition during the first few minutes of your speech. This will be your “hook.” As soon as you start speaking you should start stating all of the points of your speech. This way you will obtain and hold your audience’s attention quickly.
4. Your body language is key.
You are the first thing that the audience will see and how you present yourself plays a crucial part on how the audience will receive the information you’re about to present. Stand up straight when entering the stage and speaking to your audience, it will show your authority and confidence. If you walk into the stage slouching and not standing straight the audience will possibly get bored really quickly because you are.
5. Don’t get stuck, move around.
Use the stage to your advantage, walk, run, jump or skip by doing this you will keep your audience eyes on you and keep them engaged continuously by moving around. If you’ve seen a Kevin Hart comedy show, you’ll see that he doesn’t stop moving and uses his body to emphasize what he's telling the audience. Standing behind the podium or the microphone during your whole speech and not moving will turn your captive audience into a sleepy audience.
6. Set your goal.
Another way to grab your audience’s attention early on is to mention all of your talking points for the speech. By stating the order of your talking points, you will provide an overview of what the presentation will be like and what it will cover. You will tell the audience what your goals for that day, and during your speech you will dive in depth into each talking point and finalize by summarizing each of them.
7. Get to know your audience.
Know exactly the type of audience that will be attending your speech. You can use this information to tailor your speech around the type of people that will be attending. Knowing more about your audience will help reduce stress levels regarding your speech. Furthermore, it will make you feel as you’re not standing in front of strangers, but a group of people that share the same interests.
8. Begin with an interesting question or story.
Start your speech with a question, story or puzzle. It will help take the audience’s focus off you and into what you're asking them to place their attention on. The theory behind this is that it will get the audience thinking of another thing than using those first moments of your speech to judge you. It’s a way to start your speech with ease and find a common ground with the audience.
9. Find others going through your same issues.
You’re not the only one going through stage fright, you can be sure about that. Find a group of people who are going through your same issues you are and see how they overcome it or how they are working through them. A support team is always a beneficial tool to have in your armory of public speaking.
10. Get feedback.
There’s nothing wrong with receiving feedback, either if it is positive or negative feedback. Listening to what your audience says is one of the most important parts of being a successful public speaker. Your audience may point out things that you do while speaking that you may have not noticed before. Take every feedback as constructive criticism and apply it to your future speeches.
Public speaking is never an easy thing to do, some people are born with the talent, others need time to practice and perfect it. These strategies will help you prepare better for any future speaking engagements you may have. It’s important that while preparing for your speech, you let your personality show, after all the audience is there to see you.