Ten Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking Abilities
Are you one of those people who relish speaking in front of a crowd, or does the idea of public speaking fill you with dread? If you answered the latter, you are in the vast majority!
Many people out there are nervous about public speaking, but there are quite a few things that you can do to boost your confidence and give a talk or a presentation with poise. Equipping yourself with the lecterns, mobile whiteboards, and multimedia is important, but so too is knowing your audience, and preparing accordingly.
As one of the leading suppliers of lecterns and whiteboards in the UK, the team here at Red17 is are often asked for tips and tricks for delivering a better presentation. Due to popular demand, here are our top ten tips to improve your public speaking.
Prepare and Practice
Know and Understand your audience
Start things off with a smile
Use a Lectern
Know the environment
Use supporting materials
Use a Whiteboard
Present yourself appropriately
Remember to breathe, and take a break
Watch Recordings of Your Speeches
When you find out that you are required to partake in public speaking, it can be incredibly daunting. One of the best ways to improve your public speaking is to prepare and practice what you are going to say. In addition to writing your content, spend time putting your speech together to ensure that it flows smoothly and includes relevant and interesting examples and information.
After you have decided what you are going to say, practice exactly how you are going to say it! Think about the specific pauses or breaks you are going to add for emphasis and clarity. Not only will this help improve your confidence, but it will also help you deliver a better performance and enable you to engage your audience.
It is often a good idea to try and learn at least a section of your presentation by heart, so that you don’t have to glance down the entire time. Nobody wants to listen to someone merely reading off a piece of paper, which also limits the amount of eye contact and projection you can deliver. Give yourself time to learn and understand your message, and practice doing so. And then practice again!
One of the best ways to improve your public speaking is to tailor what you are saying to your audience. If you are speaking about a problem they are trying to solve or provide them with information, it is worth remembering what it is that they want to know. What is most important to them?
Your audience is likely to have heard many speeches, presentations, and talks, so try to make yours stand out from the crowd. The primary way to do this is to engage with and grasp their full attention throughout.
By understanding your audience and preparing to speak in front of a specific group, you can also help improve your overall confidence. This is because it is much easier to stand up and talk about something you know and fully understand, as opposed to something you have limited knowledge about. Your confidence will shine through.
Research has shown that the simple act of smiling can make a person feel happier and more at ease. Putting a big smile on your face when you walk out and begin your talk can instantly set the mood for your audience. When you do so, it is likely that people in the audience will smile back at you, helping to ease any tension and awkwardness and contribute to a much smoother speech.
It may not always be entirely appropriate to deliver a full speech with a huge smile, as your topic may vary in seriousness. However, by appearing compassionate, caring and genuine, you are likely to build a better connection with your audience.
Using a lectern is a must when public speaking. Lecterns enable you to project your authority on any topic, and provide you with a professional surface on which to place any notes or cues that you may require. A lectern also provides you with a safe space to place your hands, and limit any potential hand movements caused by nerves.
If your venue has a professional lectern, be sure to use it to its full potential. However, we advise that you practice first giving your talk with a lectern before you deliver your talk. It can be very different from standing alone, and it is essential that it is the right height to ensure that your audience can still clearly see and hear you. If you don’t have access to a lectern in your home, practice delivering your presentation while standing.
When you are preparing to speak in public, it can be beneficial to check out the location where you will be speaking in advance. Knowing the space and environment you will be talking in helps you to visualise the performance in advance.
Visualisation can be a great way also to help you remember your speech, as well as preparing a mental rehearsal of the whole event. If you are familiar with your surroundings, you’ll feel more comfortable while delivering your content.
It can be a good idea to accompany your talk with some visual aids. Visual aids can be in the form of many different objects; each may be suitable to different types of public speaking or events. It is worth carefully considering the use of supporting materials and the form that may best accompany you and your speech. Some common choices include a PowerPoint presentation, a leaflet or pamphlet, hand outs, or a slide show.
We think that the use of a whiteboard is a must during any public speaking event – it can really enhance any presentation and communicate your ideas clearly. A whiteboard can be used alongside other supporting materials, or instead of hand outs.
A whiteboard or mobile whiteboard creates a space onto which you can project a PowerPoint presentation, pin-up images, or write down keywords or facts during your talk. A PowerPoint presentation or animation can be the difference between a good speech and an excellent speech. Animations, when used effectively, can be incredibly powerful and help to hold everyone's complete attention.
Furthermore, if you are required to speak for a long duration having some visuals or even short videos can really help to break it up. Not only will this be a welcome break to you and your voice, it also allows you to gather your thoughts for the next part. Furthermore, it also adds variation for your audience and helps maintain their attention.
Public speaking can be daunting; many people are often unsure of what to wear on the big day. Your chosen attire can have a crucial effect on your confidence, which will then have a knock-on effect on your speech.
If you are well turned out and impeccably presented, you will make a better first impression, and the people you are speaking to are more likely to engage with you. However, it is important also to be comfortable when public speaking. The more relaxed you feel when delivering your speech, the smoother it is likely to go. Therefore, if you feel uncomfortable in a tight suit jacket, it may be better to go for a smart jumper or relaxed-fit blazer.
Public speaking can be extremely tiring and draining; alongside this, many people get extremely nervous. This can lead to people panicking and rushing through their speech in an attempt to get it finished.
Remember to take a breath and slow down. When you practice, try speaking at what feels like an artificially slow pace – it probably actually sounds clear and measured to your audience, and you are always bound to speed up when actually giving the presentation. It can also be worth remembering that it is ok to take a break and pause for a few seconds. Taking planned breaks or moments of silence can be beneficial and add a layer to your speech, helping your talk go a lot better.
After thoroughly preparing for your talk, one of the final steps is to record yourself delivering your speech. This will help you to highlight weaker areas of your speech where you are not as confident, as well as allowing you to implement planned pauses and improve the overall delivery.
Carry this task out a couple of times, and try refining different aspects each time until you are satisfied with your performance. Please take into account any verbal stalls, and acknowledge your body language and hand gestures to ensure they won't distract the audience. If you don't have access to a recording device, try practicing in front of the mirror or your peers, as you may be able to pick up improvements and/or receive feedback. Remember - the more you can practice, the more confident you will feel and the better your speech will go!
If you are preparing for speech or presentation and are in need of supplies or equipment, get in touch with Red17. We can walk you through our wide selection of whiteboards, lecterns, portable display counters and other presentation materials.
Read more: Choosing the Right Lectern for Your Venue