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15 Ultra Practical Skills That Can Make You A Brilliant Public Speaker

15 Ultra Practical Skills That Can Make You A Brilliant Public Speaker

Many of us are now required to make presentations. Whether it is for an interview or simply for a staff meeting, most of us at some point will have to stand in front of a crowd and face that fear of public speaking. While public speaking comes naturally to some, most people dread that moment when they become the focal point in a room. Some of us finally master the craft through years of practice, some are still fighting to find that comfort level.

No matter where you find yourself in the spectrum, the following fifteen ultra practical skills will definitely help you become a brilliant public speaker:

1. Research your audience

Knowing who you will be addressing will help you prepare your mindset accordingly and help you feel more comfortable.

2. Know your environment

Find out about where your presentation will take place. If possible, familiarize yourself with the place ahead of time. Make notes of the little things: “Will there be a podium?” or “Is there a projector?” Also, be mindful of key elements of the atmosphere, such as the noise level and lighting.

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3. Prepare

While for some, it might seem redundant to point this out, it is important that you prepare for your presentation, regardless of how familiar you may be with the topic of discussion. Create an outline for yourself, to help keep you on track.

4. Practice

Again, it does not matter how familiar you are with the topic, practice your speech at least once. This will give you a chance to plan your pauses, which will keep you from sounding like you’re reading from a prompter.

5. Practice articulation

One important part of your practice should revolve around articulation. Focus on words that are difficult to pronounce and/or have varied pronunciations. There is nothing worst than a public speaker who does not enunciate.

6. Use tools

For those of us who are very nervous, this is especially helpful. Whether it is an index card to keep your thoughts organized, or a clicker to control your slide presentation, tools will help you stay on track.

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7. Dress to impress

This may not seem like an important tip to most, but one of the easiest ways to boost your confidence is by ensuring that you dress to impress. As a public speaker, you will be the center of attention in the room for a long period of time, which will undeniably give your audience an opportunity to examine every aspect that you present – including your wardrobe. Be sure to dress appropriate to the event and pay attention to the small details in your wardrobe.

8. Walk

The last thing you want to do is stand in front of your audience like a stiff board. Walk and move around, it will not only relax you but it will also keep your audience more engaged.

9. Breathe

Another important part of your speech is to remember to breathe. This will allow for you to sound more natural and also take breaks at appropriate times. Your audience will be able to connect better with you if you sound like you are having a regular conversation, rather than bombarding them with information without taking the time to breathe.

10. Avoid filler words

Filler words such as “um” or “so” can be extremely detrimental to a public speaker. When overused, your audience will start focusing more on how many times you’ve used them versus the message that you are conveying. Furthermore, you will sound less confident using all of these fillers.

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11. Partner up

One of the best ways to help you feel comfortable as a public speaker is by finding an opportunity to partner up with a colleague or friend for your presentation. You will have someone to help you move the presentation along, as well as answer questions from the audience.

12. Encourage questions

While you do not have to take tons of them, questions from your audience may present an opportunity for you to further develop on a concept that you mentioned during your presentation.

13. Ask for feedback

It may not be the easiest thing to read feedback, but it is the only way that you will learn what you should do differently. You can choose to provide your audience with an anonymous evaluation form to complete. You can also simply ask a couple of friends to observe your presentation and provide you with their feedback.

14. Take a course

Taking a course with some tips to develop your skills as a public speaker can only help you better prepare for your future presentations. Be sure to put the notions into practice in order to see the results.

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15. Get experience

Even if your first public speaking experience was disastrous, still look for an opportunity to do another. With every opportunity comes new experience. Soon enough, you will learn how to repeat the good and avoid the bad.

Conclusion

Most of us are not born with the natural talent to be able to charm an audience as a public speaker; however, these skills will help anyone reach that point where the thought of public speaking no longer send them in a panic.

Featured photo credit: Confident Asian businesswoman standing in front of coworkers/pitbull2013 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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