If you’re in any realm of education or business, chances are you’ll have to engage in some kind of public speaking in your career. Many people fear speaking in public tremendously. One statistic claimed that the number one fear in society is public speaking. Number two is death. This means, said one comedian, that at a funeral, most people would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy!
But public speaking does not have to be a frightening experience. In fact, it can be an incredible way to build a business, share your ideas, start a movement, or spread a cause. Giving speeches, talks, and presentations has enormous value.
So, how do great public speakers do it? To improve at anything one needs only to practice and hone his skills. Here are 6 habits that seem to be present in most all those who excel at public speaking.
Using polished communication mechanics.
Public speaking is something of an art, and there are definite techniques to doing it successfully. Whether through enrolling in a speech course or merely by observing some of your favourite speakers, you can learn the techniques employed to capture attention. Nonverbal techniques such as gestures, eye contact, and movement should be varied and reflect your presentation. You want to be interesting to watch. Verbally, you should use well-supported breath when speaking, to give your voice clarity and emphasis. Varying your pacing, focusing on enunciation, and speaking clearly and confidently are also key.
Keeping it brief.
Nothing is more grating than a long-winded rambling speech that seems to go nowhere and have no end in sight. Succinct and direct speeches are the most powerful. To make a presentation memorable, keep it relatively short and make sure you continually return to the topic at hand. One helpful tip may be to have a clear outline that you stick to. If you tend to wander off on tangents when speaking, you may wish to keep a note with the main purpose of your presentation written on it. This simple reminder can help to bring you back on track.
Including a variety of approaches.
A wise public speaker knows that everyone learns and absorbs information differently. To have the most impact on your audience, you’ll want to incorporate a range of approaches that support varying learning styles.
A nice mix of engaging visual aids like slides, handouts, and demonstrations, combined with more active methods ensures that everyone gets something out of your message.
Working through bad habits.
Those who are great public speakers know that this form of presentation requires eradication of any negative habits that get in the way. If you know you have a tendency to fidget or engage in certain repetitive motions, it’s time to observe yourself and make a change. Making a video of your speech can help you see what you do while speaking. Do you clear your throat constantly? Do you crack your knuckles? Make unusual sounds with your mouth? Notice what habits you’ve picked up and work hard to remove or reduce them, as these only serve as distractions to your message.
Focusing on the audience.
A top speaker knows that a strong presentation should not be about himself. “I” and “me” are less important than “you” and “we”. Use stories and real examples to enrapture your crowd. What does the audience want or need to hear? How will this message affect their lives? Knowing what you’re presenting and how it might be received is paramount to making an impact. You can tailor your speech to the audience you’re addressing and find ways to deliver the message so that this particular group will most enjoy hearing it, or will experience maximum benefit.
Exceptional listening skills.
Often, great speakers are talented because they are uniquely attuned to what an audience wants to hear. This is because the speaker has been part of an audience numerous times, and has developed his or her listening and observational skills. Understanding a presentation from both sides is a valuable instrument in improving one’s own public speaking abilities. Learn to listen better in all aspects of your life and you just might find your perspective shifting and growing in remarkable ways.
The next time you have a speech or presentation to make, employ these 6 habits and watch your public speaking skills soar.
Published by: LMIT