Captivate Your Audience With These Public Speaking Tips

Public speaking is a highly frightful concept for many adults, but it’s something most of us will have to do from time to time. Even in an increasingly digital world, knowing how to address a crowd is a valuable skill. Knowing how to captivate your audience will make your presentations, team meetings, and even performance reviews go much better.

You don’t need the charisma of a cult leader to be successful, but brushing up on your public speaking skills will lead to greater success in your career. Join us as we reveal insightful strategies to help improve your speaking skills!

Know the material

It’s always easiest to present when you know the topic well. Ideally, you’ll be giving a presentation about something you’re passionate or knowledgeable about, but this isn’t always the case. In those circumstances, you’ll need to take extra time to absorb the knowledge.

“Nothing leads to a nervous panic like not knowing your subject well. Confidence grows when you are sure what you’re saying is accurate and on topic.” –Mark Swartz, Monster

Take some extra time to fact-check and become very familiar with the content. You’ll feel more at ease in your delivery and better appear as an expert to your audience.

Know your audience

Knowing the material is one step to good preparation, but it’s equally important to know your audience. If you have a good understanding of your audience’s knowledge level, needs, and expectations, you’ll be better able to tailor your speech to them. A speech directed towards senior members will be much different than one with college students or members of your team you work with daily.

One of the common fears of public speaking is that the audience is judging you as an arbiter of fate, but this isn’t true. Nick Gold of Speakers Corner says to remember that your audience is on your side. Others in the room want you to do well so that they are entertained and can learn something from you.

Stay focused

Once you know what you’re writing about and who you’re speaking to, you’ll have a good idea of what information to include in your presentation.

Simplicity is key—don’t overwhelm your audience with too much information. Think about the main point you want your audience to embrace and include information that supports it. A good speech can be bogged down by too many details or poor structure.

TeamBuilding says that if you’re using presentation tools like PowerPoint, ensure you don’t overload your slides with text. These tools are meant to support, not to share every single note.

Practice

Even if you feel confident about your material, presenting that material is a different beast. That’s why you must practice with your material until it becomes second nature. This will also help you to further absorb the information to make you even more of an expert.

If you can, find someone to practice in front of, says Blake DeCola. This provides you with an outside source unfamiliar with the material so that you can make sure your points are hitting home, and they can provide valuable feedback. This is also a good chance to practice eye contact!

“There’s no better way than to watch recordings of yourself speaking, no matter how painful that might be! Then iterate, try new things, and watch the results.” –Andrew Chen

Be yourself

At the core of your speech, it’s important to remember to make it your own. Your audience will feel more connected to you if you invoke some passion, and your presentation will be more memorable. Having the facts is great, but the key to a memorable performance is that connection.

Use bullet points rather than full sentences on note cards to avoid sounding rehearsed, writes MasterClass. An extemporaneous style means more words from the heart and a more natural performance.

A conversational tone will feel like you’re talking to each audience member individually, even if there are 100 people in the room. Meanwhile, Coursera recommends adding humor and personal anecdotes to spice up the bulk of your speech. This will add to the authenticity and help form connections rather than detract from your message.

Invoke a call to action

In all of the excitement, make sure that the reason you gave the speech in the first place is clear. Your speech may knock it out of the park, but if your audience immediately forgets what the point was, it won’t be a good use of time.

Invoke a call to action at the end of your speech by reinforcing what you want from your audience. Whether you want them to consider the implications of your topic, purchase a product that will help their needs, give you a promotion, or join your organization, you need that final point to hit home. The beginning and end of a speech are the most memorable parts, so use them to drive your mission home.

Wrap up

If you approach your presentation with a plan, find a way to let your unique perspective through, and end with a call to action, you’ll dazzle with your speech and impress your audience. A little “make it til you make it” energy helps, but if you take the proper preparations and have a well-crafted plan, you’ll be able to tackle any speech.

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