Delivering a speech or a presentation to a large audience can be pretty intimidating. Public speaking is often listed in the top 10 things people fear the most, usually second only to the fear of snakes!
Whether you love public speaking or dread the thought, chances are good that at some point you will be called on to make a presentation or deliver a speech to a large audience. It is impossible in the space of this blog to cover anything but the barest essentials for delivering a knock-out presentation, but using these tips will at least get you pointed in the right direction!
(Last week we covered Seven Steps to Developing Your Next Best-Ever Presentation so if you missed that one you might want to go back and read it for pointers on developing your presentation.)
Here are six tips you can use to help you prepare to deliver your next best-ever presentation!
1) It’s not about you! There are three elements to every presentation or speech: the message, the audience, and you. Of these three, the least important is you!
2) Fix your attitude! Your attitude comes across in your delivery, so make sure your attitude reflects confidant assurance. If you project fear or apprehension your audience will sense it in the first few words.
3) Rehearse, rehearse, and then rehearse some more. Rehearse in an environment that allows you the freedom to practice as though you were about to go on stage. I used to practice standing up using the kitchen island as a podium. Then I borrowed a board room where there was a podium. I practiced movements, breathing, pausing, everything the way I would want to do it when it was live. Yes, it may seem corny to practice out-loud, moving your arms, and walking around, but it is amazing how much your mind will remember when it comes time, and it will seem all the more natural.
4) Edit and fine tune. As you practice in your “make believe live” setting you’ll probably need to do some more editing on your script. Some things don’t sound the same, as they read on paper.
5) Vocal Stuff. Studies say 38% of communication is the tone of voice. Keep in mind that you must speak loudly enough to be heard, clearly enough to be understood, and slowly enough for the audience to stay with you. The five elements of vocal expression that you can manipulate to deliver the desired effect include: volume, pitch, rate, articulation, and quality. Volume – loud or soft for emphasis. Pitch – vary but stay in mid ranges most of the time. Rate – speed up to excite and slow down to emphasize. Articulation – speak clearly with your full voice breathing from your core. Quality – you can be throaty, nasal, or resonant. The quality of voice needed varies with the audience.
6) Non-Vocal Stuff. Studies says 55% of communication is body language! This is why it is so important to rehearse your non-verbal expressions as much as you do the verbal. There are many non-verbal techniques you can employ, but whatever you choose make them seem natural, and avoid any that seem forced or unnatural.
10 Tips for Public Speaking
These ten tips for public speaking come straight from Toastmasters. I don’t know of any organization that has helped train more people in the art of public speaking than Toastmasters. They know what they are talking about. Ignore any of these ten tips at your own peril!
1. Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.
2. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words. Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.
3. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
4. Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
5. Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
6. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.
7. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.
8. Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it.
9. Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
10. Gain experience. Mainly, your speech should represent you — as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking.
If ever there was someone in the Bible who had a fear of public speaking it was Moses. When God told Moses it was time to confront Pharaoh, Moses said, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). After a litany of excuses, God tells Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say” (Exodus 4:11-12).
Just before you step onto the stage, reflect back for just a moment on what God told Moses. If He was there to guide and reassure Moses He will do the same for you!
Join the Conversation
As always, questions and comments are welcome. Is giving a presentation or a speech something you love or loath? What other tips can you suggest that have helped you?
Category: Skills | Communication Skills