Public speaking is something that even the most confident of people can dread. Even the word ‘presentation’ can give some of us wobbly knees and sweaty palms, but unfortunately it something that most of us will need to face at some point. Whether on a large conference scale, or a small team meeting, there is an element of public speaking in a majority of jobs now-a-days, meaning it’s best to brush up on your skills now.
The first and arguably most important step is to prepare. You might think your speech will flow more naturally if you wing it, but chances are you’ll only end up stuttering your way through with a blank mind and an embarrassed demeanour.
Rather than planning out your content word by word, think more about the overall message you want to get across. This will help when you it comes to memorising what you want to say; memorising each word has the tendency to come across as robotic. Remember your audience won’t know what you originally planned to say, so if you miss some words out – who cares! Ensuring you remember your key message, the rest should flow naturally.
The next thing to remember is that you shouldn’t rely too much on PowerPoint. Having slides to accompany your talk can be useful in keeping your audience’s attention and can also give you a memory cue if you forget what your next point is. However, don’t fall in to the trap of putting every detail on to the slides, and reciting your full speech from it. Again, this could easily end up sounding robotic and will quickly lead your audience to tuning out.
Keeping the audience’s attention is crucial, so your next point of focus should be how you can connect with them. Knowing your audience will help with this, but if in doubt just focus on appearing natural. Keep your body language calm and keep your tone conversational rather than monotone. It might help to incorporate some personal stories of your own if you can, as this will humanise your message as well as yourself. Don’t forget – if you are comfortable, your audience will be too.
When it comes to overcoming your nerves by the time your presentation comes around, there a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, take a deep breathe and remember that your audience is there to listen to you, and support you – they don’t want to see you fail. Speak slowly and clearly, as rushing through it will only make your nerves obvious. Ask at the end if anyone has any questions and thank your audience for their time.
Preparation is evidently the key ingredient for success when it comes to public speaking – the saying fail to prepare, prepare to fail is undoubtedly relevant in this situation. With regards to speaking in front of an audience, the most important thing to do is take deep breaths and keep your cool. If you feel comfortable, your speech should flow naturally, and your audience should reflect your positive attitude. Good luck!
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