21 Ways to Overcome one of the Most Terrifying things we will ever have to do!
Updated: Dec 2, 2019
What scares you the most in life? For some it might not be flying a plane, or doing back breaking labour. No the answer might be the simple and yet complex skill of public speaking.
From one on one conversations, to presentations in front of 1000's, these TOP 21 Public Speaking Mastery Tips from The-Inspired.com will help you engage your audience, keep you calm and relaxed, and guarantee everyone has a great time - including you!
Top 21 Public Speaking Mastery Tips:
1. Breath - inhale deeply if public speaking gets you nervous. Take several deep breaths with slow exhales before you speak. Stay calm, you can do this.
2. Pause - While speaking. Don’t be afraid of the silence. This approach will add weight to what you have to say. It also lets the audience digest and process your words.
3. Avoid fillers - “uhm”, “awes, “oh”, “so”, “you know”, “basically” and my least favourite West Coast slang, “like” …all these are useless fillers which take focus away from your key points. They also reduce your credibility as a polished speaker, and, unfortunately might have the audience questioning your intelligence.
4. Speak at a Slow, Even Pace - If you are naturally a fast speaker, slow the heck down. What's your rush? Fast talking reducing the importance of sentences if they run on, or into each other. It might also give the impression that you don't believe what you're saying matters. Slow your pace to show confidence.
5. Speak with a Low, but Still Natural Voice - Or in other words, avoid speaking high-pitched. It reduces authority in your words, which could leave you coming across as playful, rather than an authority.
6. Eye Contact:Eyes Part 1 - Look at the person you are speaking to in the eyes. Try to maintain eye contact while you speak to help gain trust. If it's a large room, focus on 3 or 4 people that are giving you positive energy back, i.e. smiling at you. They are really saying "We are here for you, we agree and support you!"
7. Don’t Dart Your Eyes: Eyes Part 2 - If you dart your eyes while you speak it can be interpreted as lying, rather than just shyness. This eye darting is actually used by many levels of law enforcement to determine if a suspect or witness is being truthful, or if they are making things up as they go!
8. Avoid Long blinks: Eyes Part 3 - It’s been said that our soul is in our eyes. Long blinks, a second or longer, are a natural defence mechanism. This tells your audience you are 1. afraid or 2. not sure of what you’re saying, or 3. that you could be lying. Blink sparingly, and naturally.
9. Use Short, Concise Sentences. From my technical writing days in university, if you start with the main focus of your sentence at the beginning, and end of a sentence, it will add weight and clarity to your statement. i.e. "Public speaking is all about projecting confidence." verses "All of what matters in public speaking is confidence to help you have a great speech."...in the last sentence, 'great speech' is the last thing the audience hears, and it means nothing.
10. Watch Your Audience - Are they looking at their phone, looking around the room. They may be losing interest if so. Make adjustments such as…
11. Ask Questions & Actively Listen - If your discussion is not going to plan, adjust by asking questions of what the individual or audience is after.
12. Practice + Dedication = Mastery - Becoming a great speaker takes time. I was once an incredibly shy person, especially in front of audiences.
13. Know Your Words, Show Your Heart - Memorizing a speech is great, but fully knowing and embracing what you’re saying brings a deeper level to any conversation.
14. Smile, Have Fun, Find the Comedy - Life is short, and can feel all too serious. If you can place a well timed joke in, something about the current situation, or the day, or even make fun of yourself in a healthy way, it helps engage the audience back into focus. It also helps tell the audience that you’re on their side. You get them, the situation, and their needs.
15. Be yourself - Authentic, Natural, Real. I get it, it’s hard to remember everything listed above. So when the time comes for you to speak, just remember to 1. Breath, and 2. Be yourself. After all, it takes no 12. Practice, sometimes years of it, to truly get you there. And once there, the rest will follow.
BONUS - for those who want to truly master their public speaking skills
16. Look for Summary Points - If you're actively engaged in a conversation, look for areas that summarize the conversation. Then, as the discussion continues go back to the key points to confirm everyone agrees on the key main take aways. This demonstrates confidence, and more importantly, allows everyone to understand the outcome of the discussion.
17. Speak and Move Left to Right - When speaking, know that your audience, if in western culture, reads left to right. So know that if you use body language that shows from the audiences viewpoint, the present or past as the "left" side of the stage, and the "right" part of the stage as the future, it will helps the audience conceptualize the past, present and the future. i.e. How to go from where you are now, to where you want to be tomorrow.
18. When You First Enter a Room, Light it Up! - No I don't mean grab a cigarette. Remember your speech or discussion doesn't start when your mouth starts moving, it actually starts the moment you enter the room. Your audience, be it 1 person or 1000, will be looking for your energy, your body language, the moment you enter the room. Smile big, make eye contact, use your body to make warm and open gestures with your hands.
19. Move Around Your Space, But Don't Go Crazy - For stages and large audiences, some walking, and hand gestures go a long way when speaking, helping to bring and maintain engagement during your discussion. Use your hands and arms to make a point. Move your body to help build momentum if you're planning to finish big.
20. Be Flexible, It's Not about Being Right - Sometimes things happen during a chat, meeting or presentation. Visual tools break down, audience members feel it necessary to share their opinion. Or you forget your line. There comes a time to just keep going, or to address the matter. If things go wrong, stick to the key principles of the discussion, and be okay with not everything going to plan.
21. RAISE THE ROOF - Ok so we said to speak with a low natural voice, but all of us know, the best of public speakers have the ability to project, to shout without screaming, and to use their loud booming tone to inspire, motivate and lift up a crowd. If you're speaking to small or large audiences, judge just how loud you get, but don't be afraid to project and raise the roof on a point you really need to bring home
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Thanks and I hope that helped someone out there. Until next time, stay inspired.