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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 November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger, or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master the gentle art of saying no.

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

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For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word[1].

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss—they’re our boss, right? And if we start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

In fact, it’s the opposite—explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

“Look, everyone, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects, and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

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8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, try saying no this way:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

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Saying no the healthy way

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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