5 fast tips for better public speaking

Big presentation next week? Read on.

by Caitlin Ball
Last Updated: 05 Jul 2019

Having to stand before an audience to give a speech or presentation is inescapable for many professionals, and for almost all leaders. The odds are that if you’ve not spoken publicly as part of your job already, you almost certainly will in the future. But even for some senior people, it can be a source of intense anxiety.

There’s a lot of good advice out there, but sometimes it pays to keep it simple. Here are five fast-acting pointers to help you prepare.

1. "Don’t Believe Your Nerves"

"Chemically, nerves and excitement are basically the same thing. The difference is your own anticipation; whether you’re expecting something terrible or wonderful to happen," says Sarah Lloyd-Hughes, founder of Ginger Training & Coaching and author of ‘How to be Brilliant at Public Speaking’.

"Refuse to believe the unreasonable voice that tells you the world’s going to end if you mess up."

2. "Use Your Own Voice"

It’s dangerous to fall into the trap of thinking your audience will prefer to see a fake persona instead of the real you, argues coach and former actor Robin Kermode.

"The best advice I can give is simply to be yourself. Don’t be tempted to put on your poshest voice and end up sounding like Boycie. Speak as if you were talking with a group of friends. Be real."

3. Keep it simple...

Coach Julie Williams suggests the following from Aristotle, no less.

Firstly, "Tell your audience what you are going to be telling them."

Secondly, "Tell them."

Lastly, "Tell them what you have told them."

4...but not boring

Don’t mistake simplicity for dryness. It’s important for any speaker to think about the impact their words will have on the audience, says Marjorie North, a consultant for political candidates, physicians and lawyers, and someone who runs a private practice specialising in public speaking.

"Use a startling statistic, an interesting anecdote, or a concise quotation," she told Harvard’s Extension School. "Conclude your speech with a summary and a strong statement that your audience is sure to remember."

5. Have a purpose

"If you can’t see why your message is important, it’s not worth speaking," says Lloyd-Hughes. "Connect your message to something important - the change you want for your company, or the person you want to be seen as in the workplace."

Image credit: Freestocks.org/Pexels

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