10 Tips To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills Quickly

Published: September 2, 2014
By: Faye Hollands

There’s nothing nice about watching a Speaker stumble through their presentation or wishing the ground would open up and swallow you if you’re the unfortunate sole struggling!  Standing up in front of a group of people, no matter how small, is daunting for many but if you want to climb the corporate ladder or effectively promote your business you’re going to have to do it at some point.  So here are 10 simple steps you can take to make public speaking a whole lot more bearable for you, and more enjoyable for your audience!

Be A Great Speaker

According to various surveys around the world public speaking tops the list of phobias, which means for some people – as Jerry Seinfeld said – “the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy”!

Personally, I love public speaking and I do a LOT of it, but I haven’t always felt that way.  It’s something I’ve had to work on, and I’ve definitely put a lot of effort into polishing my speaking skills over the years.  So today I want to share with you some of the easiest things you can do to improve your speaking skills quickly: –

  1. Give your audience what they want:  Make sure you’re 100% clear on what your audience wants from your presentation before you start preparing it.  Put yourself in THEIR shoes, and meet THEIR needs, rather than simply delivering content that’s easy or quick for you to pull together.  No-one wants to be bored to tears so spend time upfront getting to understand what your audience wants and make sure your presentation delivers, otherwise you’ll have a lot of frustrated people on your hands!
  2. Know your content:  It sounds obvious, but it’s a LOT harder to be an engaging presenter if you don’t know your topic!  Even if you’re not passionate about the subject matter, read, revise, prepare and make sure you know what you’re talking about – no excuses.
  3. Act as if:  A positive mindset is critical so imagine what it would be like if you were a world-class presenter and then act as if you already are.  What would you be wearing, thinking, doing and saying?  Now mirror those behaviors.
  4. Brush up:  Your appearance DOES matter as it impacts how you feel about yourself and your level of confidence, as well as the impression your audience has of you.   Wear a great suit or dress that makes you feel powerful and in control, and never skip personal grooming!
  5. Slow down:  One of the easiest ways to calm your nerves and get in control of your presentation is to slow down.   A clear sign of a confident speaker is a calm and considered approach when delivering content.  There’s no need to rush!
  6. Use your eyes:  If your eyes are darting around the room or you’re constantly looking down you’ll give everyone the impression you wish you weren’t there, so no matter how nervous you are it’s really important to engage your audience with confident, sustained eye contact.
  7. Watch your body language:  Too many speakers get so caught up in remembering the words they’re going to say they completely forget what’s going on with their body language.  Cue: crossed arms, fidgeting, pacing (the list of nervous behavior goes on and on!)   Be really mindful of your overall message, and not just the words you’re using as your body language speaks volumes!
  8. Quit the fillers:  It’s awful listening to lots of “Um’s”, “You know’s” and those nervous fillers that so many speakers pepper their presentation with when they feel on edge.  So remember this, it’s OK to have silence.  You don’t need to fill every gap with words, and in fact it’s a sign of a confident speaker to be able to pause, collect yourself and speak with control.
  9. Get some mirror time:  Practice is key and the mirror really is your best friend.   Schedule time in your diary to rehearse in front of a mirror and get a gauge of what your audience are going to see.  Get used to looking up, smiling, moving your eyes around the room and being mindful of distracting mannerism’s such as hands in your pockets, twisting your ring, clenching your hands, pacing back and forth, or touching your face or hair!
  10. Don’t end with Q&A:  Ideally you want to leave your audience on a high so make sure you craft a quality ending to your presentation that makes it memorable for everyone involved, rather than the standard cliche “Any questions?”. Don’t risk ending your presentation on a lack-luster point with everyone walking away tired and bored – instead say last what you want everyone to remember most!

Speaking is an art form that should be practiced and honed.  Some people are more natural than others, but with commitment and dedication you can be an inspring, engaging and thought provoking speaker too.

If you’d like to find out more about being an confident speaker click here to contact me – I’ve coached and trained hundreds of people at all levels on how to master public speaking, and I can do the same for you too.

Faye Hollands

About Faye Hollands

Faye is an accomplished Career Coach, Small Business Coach and Productivity Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. To receive weekly articles to improve your career, business and time management skills click here or book your Free Focus Session here.

You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email fayehollands@outshineconsulting.com

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