Hey everyone! I am super excited to publish this type of post. I wanted to highlight something different for this Monday afternoon–public speaking skills in relation to presenting your work to an audience. I have never queried before, but perhaps some of these tips could help you when trying to “sell” your work to someone, convincing them why they should represent you and give your work a chance.
My freshman year of college I took a speech communications course and I do not regret that decision. As most college students, I did not know what I wanted to major in. Therefore, my first year consisted of taking a bunch of liberal arts classes until I figured out what I wanted to do.
My speech professor highlighted essential skills one would need not only for public speaking, but for life in general. I know public speaking is feared by many people, but this skill is extremely crucial in the work field. Whether you are an employee or a boss chances are you are going to speak in front of an audience at one point or another. Now for me I can honestly say I do not fear speaking in public. I may have pre-speech jitters and butterflies in my stomach, but as soon as I begin speaking, I am locked in.
In this blog post, I highlight some tips that I think are necessary when speaking to an audience. I have been present for so many speeches before. Some were astounding, others not so much.
Let us begin with the first step which is—engaging your audience with what you are about to present, that moment where you either make or break it, will determine if the audience chooses to listen. Not only is it frightening as is with speaking in front of hundreds if not more people, but when you can see people speaking over you and not listening, this can be hurtful as well. Even if people are being rude, the speech still needs to get done. So, in this post I provide helpful pointers to get you over the hump of being fearful of public speaking.
The first recommendation I will make is: CAPTIVATE YOUR AUDIENCE. Keep in mind people will lose interest or become bored after a long period of time has passed. Keep your speech short and sweet.
What To Do Prior To Giving A Speech
- OUTLINE your work. Ensure you cover all the talking points. I would recommend using bullet points with the main idea and include 2-3 sentences to describe those main points.
- My professor would tell us stories about some disasters she witnessed when people used flashcards when giving their speech. She spoke to us one class about a work conference she had gone to. The CEO of the company had to give a speech. Unfortunately, during the speech the flashcards had fallen on the floor and because he relied too heavily on the flashcards, they fell out of order, and he did not know where he left off or how to continue. Therefore, I say when you are about to give a speech, type out your words. Also—be prepared to improvise. You could prepare your speech word for word, but you must anticipate distractions or other things that may put a dent in your plan.
- When typing out your speech, I would recommend making it double spaced and using a simple and easy to read font.
What To Do During Your Speech
- ESTABLISH YOUR PRESENCE in front of all those people. Body language also plays a key role while speaking in public. Stand tall, shoulders back, and do not slouch.
- EYE CONTACT is so incredibly important I cannot stress this enough. Make sure you are engaging with your audience by keeping them involved. Your speech should be like having a normal conversation with your friend.
- DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT read directly, word for word from your paper. This is such a turn-off for many people. It is boring, uninteresting, and mundane to say the very least.
- SPEAK LOUDLY. Do not use a hushed tone or speak down into the paper. Speak OUT, as my professor would say. When you raise your head instead of looking down, your voice then projects out into the audience.
- PACE YOURSELF. Do not rush. But also, do not speak too slowly. This is something people must establish on their own—is finding their pace.
- When I am giving a speech or speaking to a large crowd of people, I like to ask questions in the beginning to engage my audience almost immediately. Ask them a question or two which is related to the content you are going to be speaking about. If you are not going to begin with questions, I would then recommend using a catchy opening line.
- SHORT AND SWEET. This is also crucial to consider. It is quite simple to make a speech longer than it needs to be. But, quality over quantity is what people should consider. As long as you can get your point across in one page or less, you can have more of an impact, rather than reading a 10-page speech others will not engage completely with.
- Do not ramble. Cover the main points. People will become uninterested if they cannot relate to or engage with the content being covered.
What To Do As Your Speech Nears The End
- SUMMARIZE the main points you covered to refresh the memory of the audience. Depending on the length of your speech, they could have easily forgotten point #1 as you just finished covering point #10.
- You need to go out with a bang. Make your audience remember you. The closing line can really influence how your audience views your content. You want a powerful ending to your speech which either leaves your audience wanting more, asking questions, or just thinking about the content in general.
- Take the time to ASK QUESTIONS at the end. Allow your audience to really engage with you by allowing them to either provide comments/feedback, etc. This allows your audience to believe you care about what they have to say as well.
Public speaking should not be something to fear. We learn as we go. Each time you give a speech, you will take away with you something you could improve on. If you think about it, we are all ‘public speakers.’ We speak to our family in the living room, we talk to our significant others about how much writing we did in one day, or we converse with our parents about life. If you think about giving a speech as just speaking normally to a family member or friend, you will do just fine.
As always, I hope this post can help at least one person. If you use any of these tips, feel free to tell me about your experience. You can comment on this post, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I would love to hear about your experiences.