Public speaking can be a challenging and harrowing experience for many. Individuals not accustomed to addressing audiences, having confidence issues or not naturally eloquent may find it difficult to pull through such occasions. Yet, we all face them – be it an interview, an official meeting or a national/international conference in one’s field. Regardless of designations or industry, all corporates prefer candidates and employees with excellent communication skills. And, those who are indeed exceptional communicators end up making their mark. They can sail through interviews for the most coveted jobs, become the go-to employee for all client presentations or come to be regarded as a thought leader in their area of expertise.
By following certain practices of public speaking, we can hone our presentation abilities and deliver speeches seamlessly. Below are discussed a few tips through which you can brace yourself up for a good presentation and leave a lasting impression on your listeners. No winging – always put in that extra effort to come up with your best performance with regards to your script, style, confidence and demeanor.
Develop a unique, personal speaking style: Be it your way of greeting people, tone, voice modulation, humor or enthusiasm in voice, some individual characteristics in your speech should be uniquely identified as yours. Your audience will come to relate them with your personality and this will help garner you a strong reputation.
Learn from renowned presenters: Try listening to esteemed presenters in your field and notice how they get their message across. Cull out the best portions from their speech and take note of what topics and areas of discussion they dwell on. See what style of speaking attracts audiences and what impact certain ways of public address have that gained them a large fan base in the first place.
Take cues from fellow presenters: You can examine the presentations of your seniors and colleagues at your workplace to know the context in which to locate your own speech. If they’re already covering an important subject that concerns your business, try developing on the content with updated information. You can also get a sense of your audience from the reactions and responses in previous presentations. Think about – a) What the audience desires to listen to? b) What kind of questions and cross questions they ask? c) What kind of questions and cross questions they are likely to pose in your presentations? d) How can you prepare in advance for those questions? e) What’s the audience like – are they a very serious lot or do they enjoy jokes and humor? f) Which previous presentations did the audience best respond to? g) What were the salient qualities of those presentations?
Practice consistently: It is essential that you rehearse your presentation several times before giving the final shot. Practice repeatedly till you’ve thoroughly mastered the subject matter as well as the art of delivering it. Speak out aloud, hear yourself and pinpoint places where you think your tone ebbs. You can record your speech and listen to it over and over while making notes for improvements. Stand in front of the mirror or record a video of yourself talking. Walk or move around as you would during your presentation and try to familiarize yourself with your position and ambience. You can also involve your friends, family or colleagues in your mock sessions and consider their authentic reviews to enhance your presentations. Yet, take care to leave room for spontaneity and avoid contrived, over-practiced manner of speaking.
Pep up with positive visualization: While preparing for your presentation, you should envision positive scenes of the audience reacting to your speech. Be it a hall full of laughter, an interactive Q&A session or a silent but attentive group of people – envisage such visuals to boost your confidence and stave off negativity.
Wear your confidence: Carve out a confident image of yourself in front of your audience. No jittering, dilly dallying or beating around the bush. Be accurate, precise and assertive in the statements you make. Your expressions, body language and manner of speaking should all reflect your self-assurance. The audience must feel inspired and assured that the knowledge coming from you in enlightening them in a true sense. Hold your head high, make hand gestures and learn other tricks of confident body language. Sounding articulate and delivering a well-structured speech will win you the high opinion of your listeners.
Select your content wisely: Your script should be original, informative and interesting that captures the audience’s attention. Resist the temptation to talk at length and keep it crisp and compact. Do not cover too much material to keep your listeners engrossed throughout. Convey eye-opening insights and think hard about what to include and what to leave out in your presentation.
Focus on non-verbal communication: A cordial body posture, gentle eye contact and a genial smile can work wonders for your presentation. Ponder upon how you can connect with your audience and strengthen your bond with them through non-verbal gestures.
Do not neglect elocutionary tactics: Watch the pace of your speech while practicing and intersperse it with pauses at appropriate places. Take pauses and modulate your voice to harp on key points and keep your tone lively and conversational overall.
Engage your audience: Make your audience active participants in your presentations. Let them ask questions and put across opinions. On your part, you should encourage queries and ask them what they think. Connect directly with your audience and be an approachable person in their eyes. You can randomly pick people and ask for their thoughts on your speech or suggestions on the topic under discussion. Do not be vexed by difficult questions and be honest in whatever you share with your listeners.
Join training classes: You can enroll in online or offline classes to work on and refine your presentation skills. Group sessions and presentations will provide you opportunities to assess and finetune your oratory skills.
Dress to impress: Your appearance and dressing style in the workplace helps you earn respect in the eyes of others. Do not keep your excellence limited to your subject matter but extend it to your personality – clothes, shoes, hair and body language – to leave a profound impact on your coworkers. Dress professionally for your presentations and meetings and look as smart as you sound.
Be organized: Lastly, do not flounder – with your thoughts, papers, files or laptop during the course of the presentation. Be well-organized and structure your content in a way that you hop from one point to another smoothly without making your audience feel bored.
Polishing presentation skills is part of one’s personal development. It boosts feelings of self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence. Your dream jobs or promotions will not seem a faraway destination if you practice sincerely and discover newer ways of improving your communication.