Do you want to Influence Others? Get Better at this.
It is no secret if you just pay attention, we have a communication problem in the world. There is communication about policy, politics, the pandemic, the vaccine, this president, and that one and all the other messages you are hearing on a daily basis.
The real problem is a miscommunication problem.
The number one skill any leader can and should develop is the ability to communicate. Whether by email, text, written, or public speaking, your words, and your message matter.
My goal with this post is to help you with your public speaking skills development. I never want to leave someone where they are, so I believe these tips will help you if you aren’t already a polished speaker.
I know you may not like to speak in public. I understand. When I was in school, I would take Fs on any assignment that required me to speak in front of my peers. I hated it that bad. Today, I make my living speaking in front of others. So, if this ole country boy can sharpen his skill so can you.
Below are some advisory ideas to help you grow.
- If you need some inspiration, look for recorded videos of other people giving speeches about a similar topic as you. What have they used for props or visuals? How have they arranged things? How have they crafted their speech?
- When preparing your presentation, consider the wants and needs of the audience. What problem do they need to be solved? How can you help solve it for them? What do they really want to hear from you?
- Make every word count. Write what you want to say, then shave it down so it's brief, comprehensive, and clear. Remove words like "just", "actually" and any others that have no real substance and clutter the thought.
- Use your body language to your advantage. Facial expressions, gestures and good posture all help make an impact when telling a story. Look people in the eye, smile, and walk around if possible to give more passion to what you are saying. The best speakers present themselves as being friendly, confident, enthusiastic, and energetic.
- Practice breathing from your diaphragm instead of your chest to better control your voice; tone, pitch, and volume.
- Spend extra time on your appearance the day of your speech. You should be well-groomed and wear a crisp, outfit that compliments your body.
- Skip boring introductions. Instead, intrigue your audience with a bold statement or thought-provoking question. You want to grab your audience's attention from the start and keep it throughout your speech.
- When prepping your speech, start with the takeaway; the one thing you want your audience to remember. Make it short, about 15 words or less, so it's easy to remember. Then build all the other speech elements around this statement, ensuring your message flows logically.
- If you're good at following an outline, you don't have to fully write out your speech. Being able to take cues from notes will allow your speech to flow more naturally.
- If you are not good with cues, try to memorize your speech. You'll have the freedom to inject real-time points, humor, and interactive elements into your speech when you know you won't lose your place because you have it memorized.
- Engage your audience. Ask questions and encourage participation.
- People love hearing stories. Stories help bring the message home for them. If you can tell a good story that's related to your speech topic, do so.
- Practice, practice, practice. Do not try to wing it. Even the best speakers struggle when they fail to practice. Write, speak it out loud, give the presentation to a friend or family member. The more you practice, the more confident you will feel.
- If possible, practice your speech in front of a video camera and watch the replay. This will allow you to see where you need more work.
- Use high-quality visuals in your presentations. Like making every word count, less is oftentimes more when it comes to slide shows, as long as the visuals are top-notch.
- To reduce nervousness, focus on your audience and your message instead of your fear. You are there to educate them. If it helps, create an on-stage persona that you can step into when giving your presentation.
- Present your information in a way that comes naturally to you. If you do best when injecting humorous examples into tough-to-understand topics, do it. If you are better at delivering messages through stories, create your presentation in a storytelling format. You'll feel more confident when you present the material in a natural way.
- Get familiar with the location where you'll be speaking. If it's a new area, map out the best route to take to get there. If possible, visit the location ahead of time so you're familiar with the setup.
- Know the expectations of the event. Should you dress in business attire or is casual dress okay? What steps do you need to take when arriving at the event? Who do you check in with? How does the process work? The more you know ahead of time, the less you have to worry about the day of.
- A spa treatment, a relaxing nature walk; whatever makes you feel most relaxed. Plan some time for it before and after the event.
- Listen to your audience. If you're engaging your audience, listen to what they have to say before responding. If you're giving a more formal presentation, watch for visual cues to see if they're staying engaged or starting to get bored. If you see their interest dropping, do something to draw them back in or jump ahead in your speech to skip any unnecessary information.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Pause between ideas to allow your audience to absorb what you are saying. Engage your audience to make sure they are hearing what you are saying.
Here is my final question. Are any of those tips above too hard? No, they are simple. But as I heard it said once, what is simple to do is also simple not to do. One of the hardest ones for me to do above is practice. I am a gamer. I like to get in the game and so I rely on my experience too much sometimes and might wing my message instead of really nailing it down with some forethought and practice. That is the curse of experience.
I have a new speech coming up this fall on a topic I have delivered before. But this time I am completely reworking the topic and will share the information in a new way. This is how I sharpen my saw and keep getting better.
I hope this article is helpful for you…now go light up the world.
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