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Tips to Become a Better Public Speaker
February 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm #181625
For many of us, public speaking is something we dread. Statistics estimate that 75% of the population has a fear of public speaking. But public speaking is a fact of life and an important skill to master. In government, it is often the way to be seen as a thought leader and climb the career ladder. Recently, I asked some of my colleagues for their tips and tricks to become a better public speaker. The eight tips below will hopefully help boost your confidence and encourage you to take on more speaking engagements.
- Know the material. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to do your research and know your stuff. The more you know, the more confident you will be.
- Think about your audience. What does the audience want out of your presentation? How much background do they have on your topic? You should know who you are speaking to so you can do a better job at tailoring the material to be most effective.
- Pace yourself. It is human nature to talk faster when you are nervous. This is why it is important to practice, time yourself giving the speech and remember to speak slowly. Plan to pause in certain areas of your speech by taking a drink of water or skipping to the next slide.
- Speak in short sentences and don’t use “big” words. Hearing someone talk is much different than reading the same information. Be sure to talk in short sentences and use conversational words so the audience understands you.
- Watch your hands. We all do certain things when talking like twirl our hair, wave our hands around, or stand still behind the podium. Practice talking in front of a mirror to see what your habits are (or even better, practice in front of the people around you). Then be aware of these habits when on stage so it doesn’t become distracting.
- Make them laugh. Everyone appreciates a well-timed joke, especially during long speeches or meetings. Use humor to engage your audience and keep things light. But remember, you aren’t a stand up comedian so don’t go overboard with the jokes.
- Tell stories. Statistics show people remember information better in the form of a story. In fact, that was the subject of Paul Smith’s keynote address at GovDelivery’s Annual Digital Communications event. He argued that storytelling was a powerful way to deliver your message stating, “experience is the best teacher, with a story being a close second.” Good public speakers use storytelling to their advantage and engage their audience by telling personal and relatable anecdotes. Storytelling is also a skill. Learn how to be better at it here.
- Be yourself. You were chosen to speak for a reason so there is no need to be someone that you are not. While watching good public speakers is beneficial to pick up tips, you want to be comfortable and natural with your delivery. From what you say to how you look, be yourself and show your passion.
What are some of your tips for better public speaking? What about storytelling? Do you agree with Paul Smith that storytelling if one of the most effective ways to tell your message?
February 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm #181627
Nice list, Amy!
I’d say an important offshoot of number one is practice, practice, practice!
Storytelling is great because it makes you a real person (relatable) to your audience.
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