You will be asked to speak in public. Unfortunately for anxious people everywhere, public speaking is still the most effective way to move, persuade, and inspire — even in the age of emojis and GIFs.
Jason Shen, a renowned TED Talk speaker, believes that public speaking is a critical skill for anyone who wants to have an impact on the world. It’s why direct spending expenditures on global business travel totaled $327.3B in 2018.
Public speaking isn’t going anywhere, but how do you improve your skills?
- Just say no to public speaking.
That’s the advice many friends gave me when I told them I was drafting this article.
- Know your audience.
This is as true for a speaker as it is for a writer. To help remember all the elements of “audience analysis,” Conrad Teitell, a Connecticut based attorney, uses an acronym SAGE RFK, which stands for:
- Education, experience and socioeconomic level
- Friendly (or hostile)
- Do they Know you or Know about you?
- Prepare (and know) the room.
- Let your hosts know what equipment you need, i.e., a lectern with microphone, a portable microphone, a computer and projector to display audiovisual aids, a bottle of water, etc.
- If you are using audiovisual aids, ensure they have the correct software on the computer for you to display them. Even if you’ve emailed your files ahead of time, have a copy on a USB drive.
- Arrive early and test everything, twice.
- Start with a smile, grab the audience’s attention first, and keep your presentation as brief as possible.
- Smiling (fake it until you make it!) can actually make a person feel happier and at ease. You might even see people in the audience smiling back at you. Not only will you feel more connected to your audience, but it’ll also help you feel more confident and relaxed.
- Human’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. The last thing you want to notice when you’re giving a presentation is the audience looking at their phones.
- Use an attention-grabbing step at the beginning of your speech. You can share a short video clip or a joke that relates to the “through-line” or thesis statement that links all the points of your address together.
- Keep slides to a minimum and share stories instead.
People love to hear and tell stories. It’s also a way to get the audience coordinated with you and give your speech the impact that will make them remember what you said.
- Practice, practice, practice.
We’ve all been told this from an early age by parents and teachers, but it really works. Standing in front of a mirror and rehearsing is old school. A more effective way to practice is to use the voice or video recording function on your smartphone or tablet so that you can critique yourself.
We’d love to hear how you made your speech better and more captivating! Please share your recommendations through our social media channels (@beginwithin2016) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.