7 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking Ability by Mark Raciappa
Studies have shown it’s the #1 fear of most human beings. What about you? Overcome it and you have one of the most effective and cost-effective marketing strategies for promoting your business. Here are some points to consider:
- Prepare. Do your homework, assemble your thoughts, talking points ahead of time. NEVER get in front of your audience and admit that “this isn’t my best topic” or “I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this…” When you are organized, you are smoother, more confident, and more credible. Also, make note of what went well last time (so you can repeat it), and what you want to change. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to improve.
- Practice. Rehearse in front of the mirror. Try out your routine on the dog—if the dog runs away, you’ve got some real work to do! Try recording (video/audio) your presentation and playing it back. How do you look? How do you sound? Ask your spouse or a trusted friend to listen and provide feedback. Try different stories or illustrations to make your key points.
- Present. You must be present, in the moment. Eliminate distractions and focus on where you are and who you’re with right now. It will be obvious to the audience if your attention is elsewhere. Make sure you have turned off all electronic devices and ask your audience at the outset to do the same.
- Purpose. Why do you do what you do? What do you love most about it? Why is that important to you? What benefit do you bring to your listeners? What can they take away from your presentation and use to improve? It’s vital that you have clarity on why you’re here, what you want to accomplish, and why that matters.
- Proactive. Step out, reach forward, engage your audience. Powerful, thought-provoking questions will stimulate their creative juices. At the same time, seize the value in making the experience interactive as well. Ask for feedback, comments, agreement, disagreement, etc. Ask them to raise their hand, call out an answer. If the presentation will last for 30 minutes or more, consider having the audience stand and stretch midway through.
- Powerful. In the preparation phase, assemble some strong, compelling information. Look for different angles, perspectives. Challenge your audience to think “outside the box”. Present your points with confidence and intensity. Search your own experience for some real-life stories that illustrate your points. Look for things that are humorous and reflect circumstances and situations we can all relate to. Speaking of humor, it’s better to poke fun at yourself or your learning and helps the audience feel a connection with you.
- Passion. There is a saying: “People may not remember what you say, but they will always remember the way you made them feel.” Speak from the heart, with conviction. This enhances your genuineness and solidifies the positive impression you want to leave with your listeners. Use positive, affirming language in communicating with your listeners.
The “extra” is to remember to “polish” your presentations. Distribute feedback forms and act upon the suggestions you get. With focus, practice, and determination you can do it (and you WILL live through it)!