The Essential Guide to Public Speaking
If you can be a confident and competent public speaker you will be way ahead of most people. Being able to stand up and speak in public improves your success at networking events, can really boost your visibility as people will push you to the front of the crowd and can improve your career chances as you can give presentations to the board or to clients.
I love public speaking and any chance I get to jump up on stage I take, which is why I am often called to present myself at networking functions, give presentations at events such as the local International Women’s Day event and United Nationalities of Marbella. My lack of fear of speaking in public allowed me to travel widely as an English teacher and is now enabling me to follow my passion and be a trainer in marketing, so it’s been wonderful for me. Following these simple tips can make you a better public speaker too and open the door to many fantastic opportunities.
Public Speaking Tips
1. Remember It’s Only Talking! – I think people get too worried, too hyped up about standing up there and giving a presentation because they think they will make a mistake and they think it’s really difficult. The more you worry, the worse it gets. But if you can talk, you can talk in public!
Think about it rationally for a moment – do you get nervous ringing a client, or having a meeting, or chatting with your friends over a glass of wine? Of course you don’t, because we can all talk very well and we do it for many hours every day. If we are experts in our field, we give useful and interesting information to our clients all the time, without breaking a sweat. There is no difference between doing this to one person, or speaking to a room of 1,000! All you are doing is talking and we can all do that, so don’t over think it. If you can accept this fact, then the nerves will vanish and your style will become comfortable and natural.
2. Slow Down & Connect with your Audience – The speed we all talk at every day is staggering, and when you add nerves into the equation and have lots of cover you can start to talk so fast that it’s hard to follow you. As well as losing your audience, speaking too fast makes you seem nervous and you will end up stumbling over your words because you’re just going too fast. So when you’re practicing and timing your presentation remember to talk slower than you would normally do, take the time to look around the audience and stress the key points clearly and succinctly and give yourself time to review and really explain things properly. Check yourself during your presentation if you start stumbling over words and if you feel it’s got too fast, take a deep breath and slow down again.
3. Use the microphone correctly – There’s nothing worse for an audience as not being able to hear the speaker properly, so if you’re offered the chance to have a microphone take it. The best kind is a head set, as you don’t have to worry about it and you have both hands free (although it can make you feel like you’re taking a fitness class). However if they don’t have one then you need to know feel confident to put it close to your mouth – much closer than you think. Don’t start to talk quieter because you’re holding a microphone, you still need to project and talk clearly, always check that people at the back can hear you. Don’t hide behind the microphone, or grip onto it like your life depends on it, it is just a tool to make sure you’re heard, so don’t let it worry you.
4. Don’t write too much on your slides – Slides are just a visual prompt for you and a way for the audience to more easily digest the key points, but don’t be tempted to write everything on there. You do not want the audience to be reading your slides and not listening to you, so pull out the key points or questions, illustrated with some nice images. If in doubt, cut it and write information for yourself in the notes.
5. Practice Makes Perfect – Make sure that you practice your presentation and time it to make sure you’re not trying to cram in too much and that you’re very confident with your material. It’s better to have less core information and have time to explain it properly and finish early with time for questions, than to race through the presentation and still be late. Practice it in front of people you trust, but try not to start and stop, run it through as if it was real at least once before the big day.
6. Be Yourself – Just because you’re standing on a stage, or giving a presentation doesn’t mean you need to be a showman, or someone you’re not. It’s best to be honest with your audience and be true to yourself, if you’re nervous that’s OK just let them know and they will be more supportive. Engaging with them as a person will help your presentation to be a success and if you make a little mistake it’s no problem, just apologise and keep going. Smile, make eye contact with the room and share your experiences, you will give the best presentation as a confident version of yourself.
7. Grab Speaking Opportunities – Go networking and offer to do a presentation of your business, record videos of yourself speaking for your website, put yourself forward to do presentations at work, they are amazing opportunities to be seen, be heard, prove your knowledge and get ahead!
8. Learn, practice and get feedback – Shaw Marketing Services run informative, practical marketing training sessions for businesses looking to improve the way they communicate.
Our marketing training workshops can cover preparation for short speeches, best practices in general for public speaking and corporate presentations and how to make them engaging, informative and positive for your business. Please get in touch with us to discuss your requirements