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Published on December 18, 2019

11 Powerful Public Speaking Tips to Hook Any Audience

11 Powerful Public Speaking Tips to Hook Any Audience

You just got the great news. You were selected to give a key presentation at the upcoming executive meeting. Or it could be you were honored to be chosen to be a speaker at a conference later this year. Whatever the case may be, you know it’s time to make sure you know your public speaking tips. You are both excited for the opportunity yet also nervous to be presenting to a large audience. It’s an honor to be chosen, even if you are one of the 3 in 4 people who have glossophobia, otherwise known as the fear of public speaking.

Not to worry. Here we will discover some very powerful public speaking tips to hook any audience. Not only will you get past the presentation or speaking engagement, you’ll wow the audience. If you are really good, you’ll wow yourself too.

1. Utilize the 7 Elements of Public Speaking

Public speaking can be a daunting task and something that isn’t easy for many of us. If you want to improve on your public speaking skills, read on to learn the 7 elements of public speaking. This will lay the foundation to develop the powerful public speaking tips to hook any audience.

i. Know You Audience

Makes sense right? You have to know who your audience is and the reason they are listening to you. If your audience is the board of directors, you probably want to dress the part and speak in a more formal tone and ensure you highlight the most important points.

On the other hand, if you are speaking to an audience before kicking off a fundraising walk, you’ll be more casual in your tone but probably throw in some inspirational words to get everyone pumped up.

ii. Warm Up

This is pretty basic as well but worth mentioning. Do a few warm up exercises for your voice so you don’t sound like you have a frog in your throat. Make sure you drink some water before hand so you don’t feel like you have cotton in your mouth. You might try shaking out your body a bit or stretching to feel nice and limber when you take the stage.

iii. Manage Your Anxiety

Yes, you will most likely have some anxiety. That’s okay, accept that you will have it and figure out the best way to manage it.

When I know I am going to be nervous about something, I tell myself that’s okay. I’ve been nervous before and things tend to work out fine.

Whatever works for you, figure out the best way to manage your anxiety. You might even tell yourself that most people are nervous and anxious when speaking in public.

iv. Gain Personal Credibility

People are there to hear you speak for reason. You’ve got a short window of opportunity to show them that they are spending their time wisely.

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Right after your introduction, jump in and share something with them so they understand quickly that you know what you are talking about. You want them to feel like they’ve made a wise decision by spending the time coming to listen to you. Show them.

v. Use Different Methods of Presentation

Depending on the situation, you’ll have to decide what the best presentation material will be.

If you are giving that pep rally speech, then maybe you don’t need anything except enthusiasm and wearing the t-shirt of the cause you are supporting.

If you are presenting to a group of C-Level executives about a potential million dollar purchase they are considering, you’re probably going to want some hard data and facts to show them why the purchase will benefit them. Powerpoint presentations are fine but remember, they aren’t the best use of presentation material for every occasion.

vi. Rehearse Perfectly

You know the saying “practice makes perfect” of course. This is very true in public speaking. I wrote another article How to Memorize a Speech The Smart Way which got great tips for learning how to give a speech. The bottom line is you want to rehearse your presentation until you feel very comfortable making the delivery.

vii. Storytelling

I saved what I consider the best part for last. As humans, we are wired to love a good story. Make sure you have a few to share with your audience.

Personal stories that are salient to the point of your speech are the absolute best. If you have stories from other people or sources, make sure you let the audience know where you got the story from. In any event, put in a good story or two. Your audience will love it.

2. Start Off a Speech in a Charming Way

The most critical parts of a speech are the introduction and the conclusion. Sure, the middle is important as well but to really deliver a powerful speech you want to start off with a bang. A way that is going to get your audience hooked initially and excited about what’s coming next. Here are some great ways to start off of a memorable speech to add to your public speaking tips bag of tricks.

Make a Shocking Statement

This is one surefire way to grab the attention of the audience in a hurry. Saying something like “1 out of every 2 people in this room will have another job in 2 years” will get everyone’s eyes on you right away. And it will get their minds wondering what do you mean by that statement. Which also means they will be hooked on the next things you have to say.

Tell a Story

This is one of my favorite ways to start a speech. An engaging story will hook your audience quickly.

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Recently, I was speaking to a group of recent college graduates at the company I work for. I began the talk by telling them the story of how my truck wound up going backwards down the highway on the way to the presentation due to icy roads. That had everyone wondering how I was standing there and what my truck looked like.

Thank the Audience

This is pretty basic but certainly worth mentioning. Thanking the audience for taking the time to come to the presentation is a great way to get things going. This should be included no matter what other methods you utilize in your opening.

What’s in It for Them

Another great way to get people paying close attention is to tell them what they will get out of the speech or presentation. After all, that’s why most of these people showed up!

Getting a taste of what they will gain and or learn from your talk as well as how it will benefit them will get them ready for more.

Solve a Problem

Let the audience know a problem you are going to talk to them about solving that they can relate to.

If the audience is made of people who are there to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle, you can say something like “Who here has a difficult time creating a plan for a healthy lifestyle and sticking to it?”. Hands will shoot up all around the room. You can then tell them “I’m here to share with you a simple 5 step process to live a healthier lifestyle.”

3. Show Genuine Emotion

An audience will feel more connected to you if you show genuine emotion.

I recently attended a conference with 5,000 of my closest friends. One of the initial speakers was so full of enthusiasm and genuine passion and emotion for what she was presenting to us that we were all hooked on her every word. Her use of genuine emotion fully engaged the entire audience.

4. Tell the Audience Something They Don’t Know

Sharing something with the audience that makes them go “Wow, is that really true?” is a great way to get people hanging on your every word.

When you share something that most people haven’t thought about and work it into you speech in such a way that it gives a great launching pad for your next point, you are bound to make a great impression on your audience.

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When you tell a group something like “most dogs actually understand most of what we are saying” and then show people why this is true, you will be remembered.

5. Make the Benefit About Them

Don’t think of a speech as a way to promote a product, service or yourself. Make it about how the people in the audience will benefit, and you will have made a huge new group of friends.

People don’t like to feel like they are getting sold. What they do like is someone sharing tips and tricks with them on how to improve their life or situation or get better in some way. This is a great way to get the audience aligned with you.

6. Slow Down

Many public speakers tend to rush their words. They get anxious or nervous or overly excited, and words tend to rush out a lot faster than they should.

To create a more powerful speech that will engage your audience deeper deliberately, slow down the words coming out of your mouth. This is really good to do when you are practicing your speech.

By slowing down, the audience can understand you better and you will get better buy in from them.

7. Be Interactive

Something I have noticed over and over in great speeches is how the speakers are interactive with the audience. This doesn’t mean you have to ask everyone to raise their hand every few minutes. That being said, don’t be shy about getting the audience to interact with you from time to time.

Take a quick poll. Ask them to say something to the person sitting next to them. A few simple interactive action items like that will go a long way.

8. Be Controversial

We talked about making a shocking statement when you start off your speech. This aligns with that same concept.

Making a shocking statement right off the bat will engage people into your speech quickly. You can also sprinkle in some controversial statements or stances throughout your talk to keep people engaged and hooked.

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It doesn’t have to be completely off the wall either, more like facts and statistics that most people don’t know but make them think more and therefore, listen to you more intently.

9. Get Them Laughing

Another great way to keep an audience hooked is by having them laughing from time to time. Laughing makes us feel good, so this will certainly win you some followers.

You have to do this the right way. Don’t tell a lot of jokes, those can fall flat or in some cases offend people.

Funny things that happen during a story are great to share. One of the best ways to be humorous during a talk is to use self-deprecating humor. This shows you are self-confident and have character.

10. Use a Prop or Two

This is one of those things where a little bit will go a long way. That being said, it is certainly worth considering to incorporate a few props when appropriate into your speech. Use them in such a way that they will highlight a point.

I watched a presentation where a guy took out a cigarette and acted like he was going to light it. Of course the audience reacted. He then went on to tell people that three times as many people passed away from diabetes than lung cancer from smoking. He then proceeded to tell everyone that nobody would have been shocked if he’d taken out a candy bar. Good props, good point.

11. Tell the Audience How Good They Are

Everyone likes hearing that they are good at something or special in some way. A surefire way to get the audience engaged in your speech and listening is to tell them how good they are in some way. Make them feel good about themselves.

I was recently at a Talent Acquisition conference. One of the speakers did a great job of making everyone in the audience understand how wonderful they were for connecting talented people to jobs and careers they could make a difference at. And it’s true, that’s how I feel anyway. The cool thing was they pointed out a way to make everyone in the room feel great about themselves.

Bottom Line

By this point, you should feel fairly well armed to make a dazzling speech the next time the opportunity presents itself.

Remember, the majority of people are nervous when giving a public speech. Utilize the above public speaking tips to hook any audience at your next speech. Your confidence will increase greatly and the audience will be coming back for more.

More About Public Speaking

Featured photo credit: Marcos Luiz Photograph via unsplash.com

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Mat Apodaca

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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