Effective public speaking may come easier for some people than others, but it is an extraordinarily useful skill to have at your disposal. Most people will be required to present at some point in their lives, whether it is an academic, occupational, or social setting. In any case, it is better to be prepared. Many often dread having to speak in public due to a lack of preparation or a fear of embarrassment, but nobody is perfect and the audience does not expect you to be. If you are someone who finds yourself particularly anxious at the thought of speaking in public, then you have come to the right place. Here is a list of the steps you can take to facilitate your public speaking endeavors.
- Practice and preparation
Taking the time to prepare quality content and practice presenting it can alleviate some of the anxieties you may have about speaking in public. Make sure that you have enough to say and that the content is well-crafted for your specific audience. Practice in the mirror, film yourself, or find somebody who is willing to listen. Each time you run through your presentation, it should go more smoothly as it becomes easier to recall your information and transition between talking points.
- Use notecards
Notecards can be a useful tool for structuring your presentation and then sticking to it as well. Although you should not try not to read from a script too much, nobody will fault you for occasionally glancing down to check your progress or collect your thoughts. Be sure not to overload your notecards with information, on the other hand, since you will need to be able to quickly locate and identify the different talking points.
- Make eye contact
Look up and survey the audience. If you are using a script or visual aids, then try not to read straight from them. Momentary glances are fine, but maintaining eye contact will keep the audience actively engaged. At the least, give the impression of eye contact. If necessary, find a couple points towards the back of the audience and occasionally shift your view between them.
- Make sure to project
Make sure to speak clearly and modulate your volume. Enunciate your words fully and speak loudly enough for the whole audience to hear you. This is especially important if you are speaking without a microphone. Depending on the size of the audience, you will have to be sure to speak up and project. If you are speaking with a microphone, then figure out how closely it should be held to your mouth to achieve an effective volume.
- Use gestures effectively
Be conscious of your hands and body language. Try to avoid any nervous habits such as tapping your fingers or swaying side to side. If you appear comfortable, then your audience will be more comfortable as well. Non-verbal communication plays a major role in getting your message across to the audience. It can allow you to emphasize certain points and keep your audience engaged.
- Avoid “um” and “like”
When presenting, it is easy to fall into the habit of using vocalized pauses. People commonly use words such as “um” and “like” to avoid awkward silence; however, a short pause will actually draw less attention. The use of repetitive vocalized pauses will cause the audience to grow distracted and prevent them from focusing on your message.
- Utilize you personality
You do not have to be a robot and monotonously read the information that you have compiled. Keep people interested and let your personality show. Tell personal anecdotes and use stories that will make your content more relatable for the audience. Not only is it easier to talk about your own experiences, but it will allow people to see your passion for the given topic.
Have you ever struggled with speaking in public? We are interested in your personal experiences. Let us know if you have any helpful tips or suggestions that are not listed above.