There will come a time in your life when you’ll need to stand in front of an audience and give a public speech. Whether it’s for teaching employees, impressing management or winning over clients, it’s up to you to deliver a speech that’s not only informing, but also inspiring and convincing. This can be extremely difficult, especially if you have a fear of public speaking.
To combat this fear, we’ve compiled some public speaking tips from the best to help you give your best performance yet.
1. Make yourself comfortable
As the speaker, you are the star of that time that is allotted to you. This gives you the right to adjust factors that can help you deliver your speech better. Figure out what variables are needed to make yourself comfortable in your environment and in yourself so you can focus on the speech delivery. Map out what the stage lights should be like, arrive early and do a practice run so that any technical gremlins are banished from the scene. Preparing for your speech is something that has an enormous impact on making yourself comfortable because it conditions your mind and zeroes in on your delivery, just like muscle memory. Finally, make sure what you are wearing is appropriate to the speech you are delivering. Normally, this would be a suit or a sports jacket but in today’s age of startups, that may vary to the theme of your speech and the organization you represent.
2. Start your speech the right way
Call it as you may, but the human mind has the tendency to draw conclusions from the first impression that strikes it. Walk confidently to the position you are supposed to start your speech from, look around the room and establish eye contact with as many people in the audience as possible, then deliver a firm greeting to start off your speech. Under no circumstance should you ever state that you are nervous or apologize in advance for delivering a poor speech because this is your first time. Doing so will immediately disengage about 60% of the audience who have experience in public speaking and make them question why they should even be listening to you in the first place.
3. Engage your audience before their attention span is lost
Psychological studies have indicated that the average attention span of a human being is 4 minutes and 22 seconds. This means that you’ll only get full engagement for this period of time, after which the mind zones out. This does not necessarily mean you should always keep your speech to 4 minutes and 22 seconds every single time. Some topics require a longer period of time to get the point across. Essentially, what this means is that you have to trigger an engagement event before the 4 minutes and 22 seconds are up.
The most effective way to start a speech and get the audience engaged is through a question; an anecdote that is touching, humorous or draws people’s emotions; a form of media like a video or recorded audio; even an interactive activity with the audience. If your speech is going to be long, consider cutting it up into 4 minute segments, then utilizing engagement events to transition from one segment to another. This will keep your audience engaged and your speech will have a much more powerful impact.
4. Never underestimate the power of visual aids
The Information Age has really shifted the audience’s appetite for visual learning. A recent study that involved representative sampling across demographics has revealed that 65% of today’s population are visual learners. This means that to enhance your speech and get more engagement with your audience, you need to incorporate visual aids. However, visual aids should only be used to highlight and reinforce certain points in your presentation, they shouldn’t be there “just because.” They should be relevant to what you are presenting about and only seek to lift and elevate your point across. Your visual should also not contain the entire contents of what you are saying, instead it should focus on highlights or a summary.
5. Don’t forget to thank your audience
Courtesy never goes out of fashion. It’s always best practice to conclude your speech with a sincere gesture of gratitude for allowing the audience to share some of their time to listen to you get your point across.
With thorough preparation, a mastery of the subject you’re presenting about and our public speaking tips, you’ll be combating your fear in no time.
Looking for somewhere to hold your next public speaking event? Why not hire a Saxons meeting room today? We offer a flexible room setup including state-of-the-art technologies, catering and refreshments. If however, you’re just after more public speaking tips like these, check out the rest of the Saxons blog now.