Public speaking can be one of the most challenging tasks you are ever required to do.
Putting yourself out there in front of an audience can be rough.
If only there was a list of public speaking tips which would have an instant impact on your presentation… Oh, look!.. Here they are:
1. Plan backwards
You’ve just been asked to deliver a speech and it’s panic stations. What are you going to say? What will you put on your PowerPoint slides?
Take a breath, grab a piece of paper, and let’s do some analysis.
Consider the outcome you would like. This is your number one priority. Decide the destination.
Once you know where you are going, once you have decided where you want to end up, everything else falls into place.
Imagine your speech is about a new computer system that will be implemented over the weekend. Your goal is to make employees aware of the system, get them to arrive 15 minutes early on Monday morning, and ensure they can log in to the system. Once you know this is the goal, the rest of your planning is easy. Your plan is tailored around reaching that outcome.
Begin with the end in mind.
2. Outline in 3’s
Now it’s time to plan your speech.
Create your outline with 3 topics (or less) to support your desired outcome.
Planning more than 3 things to talk about makes it difficult for your audience to remember everything you said.
Keep it simple and plan to talk about no more than 3 supporting points.
3. Practice without a script
A public speaking killer is trying to memorize and recite a script.
Here are the problems with memorizing a script:
- It’s impossible to remember it perfectly, you will make mistakes
- You will sound robotic and un-natural
Good public speakers sound natural when they deliver. They sound natural because they are talking about what they know rather than reciting a memorized script.
Instead of memorizing, focus on knowing your topic well. Combine this with a clear outline (see above) and you’ll deliver a natural, engaging presentation.
4. Let gestures happen naturally
Perhaps some of the worst advice I’ve seen on public speaking forums and blogs is about gestures.
Practice gestures the “gurus” say.
This is terrible advice.
The best gestures are natural, the same as the natural gestures that just happen when you are conversing with friends.
Don’t force gestures, let them happen naturally. If you are talking about a topic you understand the gestures will flow without having to think about them.
5. Don’t read your slides
When you’re on stage you are there to present. You are there to speak. You are not there to read.
If you spend time the entire time on stage reading your slides your audience will be livid!
The audience is there to hear you. The audience didn’t attend to be read to like a baby that needs to take a nap.
If you are just reading to the audience there is no point doing a presentation… Just email your slides to the audience and everyone saves time.
Remember this: If you are reading your slides, the audience aren’t listening.
6. Don’t try to fill time
When you are done, you’re done.
If you have 30 minutes allocated for your speech but you can get through the content well in 20 minutes, then 20 minutes is better.
Think quality over quantity. Don’t waste the audience’s time to fill a time slot.