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Take These 12 Public Speaking Tips And Deliver An Impressive Speech

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Take These 12 Public Speaking Tips And Deliver An Impressive Speech

Few people are naturally great at giving speeches and even fewer enjoy it. Therefore the process of writing and delivering a speech is perceived as boring, uncomfortable, and bothersome to most people.

There’s plenty of tips out there for how to get better at public speaking in the long-term period, but that’s not what this article is about.

Instead you will learn different short-term public speaking tips that you can immediately apply to help your next speech become a success!

Before The Speech

1. Speak about something YOU are interested in.

Let go of the need to compromise for your audience. Make the speech about something you are genuinly interesting in. By playing to your strengths, you’ll make it so much easier for yourself.

In most cases the audience will actually like it more if you speak about something that you enjoy rather than something that you think they might enjoy.

By doing this you’ll avoid coming off as a try-hard.

2. Basic speech structure

There is a reason why movies, books, and speeches follow a structure.

This is because the brain likes to chronologically divide things into different sections. Therefore a typical speech has an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

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By following this structure you are making it easier for the observer to process the information of your speech, which increases the likelihood that your message is well received.

For the intro you may want to start with a story or a question to get the audience’s attention from the get-go.

The body is is the main portion of the speech. It should contain the main points that you want to make

The conclusion finalizes the speech and clarifies to the audience what the most important points of the speech were.

People’s short-term memories are worse than you think. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to include a conclusion.

3. Write an outline and focus on key points

Write down the key points of what you would like to say.

Keep it as simple as possible. Bullet points work well.

When you’ve written a very simple outline, give it a go immediately and film yourself while doing it if you can.

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Continue doing this for as long as you can and feel free to improvise.

The point of this exercise is not to make a perfect speech, but to use it as inspiration for writing the speech and getting new ideas that you can write down. You will probably catch yourself saying smart things that weren’t already included in the speech.

Another reason why this is a good idea is that it gives you an extra repetition and enforces a strong foundation of the key points in your memory. This is going to make your speech come off as less scripted.

4. Simplify

Even though it can be tempting to show off your expertise by speaking about a lot of different things and to provide a ton of information, it is usually a bad idea unless your speech is long.

By simplifying and focusing on a few main points (3 is the magic number) you will make it easier for the audience to fully grasp what you are saying.

Everything you say in the speech should relate to these main points and back up the simple message that you want to convey.

5. Enunciate words clearly

It can be helpful to remind yourself to speak slowly and to enunciate words clearly because many people have a tendency of speaking a bit too fast as a result of being nervous.

Plus it makes you seem intelligent.

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6. Take deliberate pauses

People don’t understand as quickly as you think they do.

They need some time to catch up with what you are saying. This is particularly important when giving a humorous speech because pauses build tension and suspense which in turn is what makes something funny.

You can capitalize on this by taking deliberate pauses when you make your key points or your jokes.

7. Rehearse a lot

It goes without saying that you need to rehearse at least a couple of times. At the very minimum, you should know your introduction.

 

Just Before and During the Speech

8. Use appropriate hand gestures and body language

Most of our communication is made through body language, not by spoken words. Therefore, it pays to have an expressive body language and purposefully move around the stage, as opposed to standing still in one place.

A lot of people use the same hand gestures over and over. Try not to do that as it gets confusing to the audience.

9. Get audience engagement in any way you can

The faster you are able to involve your audience, the more interested they will become. Get them to invest into the speech somehow.

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If you see a good opportunity to say something you think is funny, go for it. The things that you say in the moment and are situation-specific are often much more funny than scripted material.

Other ways of getting audience engagement might involve:

  • Telling the audience to vote or raise their hands if they agree with what you’re saying
  • Playing a game with them
  • Asking questions to individuals in the audience
  • Passing around a prop of some kind

10. Get focused

I mentioned earlier how it is important to get into an ideal state of mind before delivering the speech and how you could speak to people and also get to know the audience. That’s the social part.

But to get into an ideal state, you also require a certain degree of mental focus. To achieve this I would recommend you do at least one of the following three things prior to the speech:

  • Work out or go running.
  • Meditate.
  • Drink a cup of coffee or tea, or eat raw cocoa.

11. Get to know the audience

Speak to as many people as possible and introduce yourself. People will be much more friendly to you after you do this. Familiarity and likeability play very large roles in public speaking and sales. Take advantage of this.

Another key thing about getting this is the social warm-up it provides you with. If you are about to deliver an important speech, it pays to have put yourself in a peak state. You do that by deliberately speaking to as many people as possible and generating social momentum as early as you can in the day.

This will dramatically boost your comfort and make you a lot more relaxed and likeable.

12. Get an inside man

Ask a member in the audience to do you a favor and ask you a question when/if you ask for volunteers or questions. Set up some canned question to make yourself seem smart. Researchers and professional speakers do this a lot.

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You could ask this person to do other things as well. Perhaps you could ask him or her to laugh a lot at a specific point of your speech, or to let you slightly heckle him or her.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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