The ability to communicate is considered one of the most important skills to be successful in any workplace. Public speaking involves addressing a crowd at school, an office, or any such setting. People are not born with good public speaking skills, they develop them. This takes time, practice and perseverance.
The five tips in this post will help you improve your verbal and non-verbal communication, and also teach you how to be comfortable with addressing a crowd.
1. First Things First: Preparation
Confidence is a vital key to being a good public speaker. You will gain confidence if you are well-prepared. The first step to being prepared is to understand your topic. Whatever the speech topic may be, you need to research it. With good old Google by your side, researching any topic is a piece of cake!
When you put enough time and effort into preparing your speech, you can be sure that it’s free of errors. Factual mistakes can be very embarrassing, they are a sign of carelessness. It is your responsibility as a speaker to not misinform your audience. So, research your topic exhaustively, and figure out what you need to say based on your audience’s age group.
2. The Power of Pause
The difference between a great speech and an overly rehearsed one lies in the pause. One problem with being too thorough with your speech is that when you deliver it, it sounds too practiced. Learn the art of pausing at the right time, and you can overcome this.
When you walk on to the dais or stage, don’t start speaking immediately. Take a pause of about ten seconds to just survey the crowd. Use the silence to collect yourself and make sure everyone’s attention is on you. While you’re giving your speech, make sure to take appropriate pauses between each sentence. A pause gives you the time to prepare for the next part of your speech, and also gives the audience the time to process your words.
3. Talk to the Camera
Your non-verbal communication matters just as much as the verbal aspect of your speech, if not more. Non-verbal communication includes hand gestures, posture, facial expressions, etc. Certain body movements tend to give away your nervousness. Wringing your hands, touching your face and gesturing too much with your arms are some examples.
One of the best ways to identify these nervous tics and correct them is to record yourself. Turn on your camera and give your speech in front of it. Replay the video to observe where you need to control your body movements and where you need to pause. This trick is a surefire way to greatly improve your public speaking skills.
4. Tell Your Own Story
You can turn a decent speech into a great speech by personalizing it. A personal story or anecdote grabs the interest of the listeners. When you narrate an experience from your own life, you are connecting with the audience on a personal, more emotional level. Every good speaker knows that establishing a connection with your audience is the key to an excellent speech.
If you are delivering a speech about a famous personality, you’re essentially telling someone else’s story. But even in a case like this, you can personalise your speech. For instance, if you’re speaking about a famous person, you can pick a quote of theirs and explain to your audience what it means to you personally. This way, you’re making your speech more effective by adding a personal touch.
5. Dress Right
Although we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, audiences do judge a speaker by their appearance. In order to give a good speech, you need to look the part. Depending on the formality of the situation, choose the most appropriate outfit, and make sure that you are comfortable in whatever you wear. When you know you look presentable, you will naturally stand up taller. Remember: look good, feel good!
If you’re a school student and you wear a uniform, make sure it is clean and neatly ironed. If you’re in a situation where you don’t have a particular dress code, watch this video to learn how to dress for a speech.
Image Source: Google Images
Also published on Medium.