Effective public speaking is a rare and beautiful art form. Never fear, if you weren’t blessed with perfect presentation skills at birth (call us when you find this person), we have some savvy tricks for commanding a large audience. So, move over, TED Talkers. We have seven tips for effective public speaking that will take your creative self-confidence sky high. (And psst, we even have a matching deck you can check out to go with it.)
Tip #1: Find your voice
You know that voice you do on the phone with your boss? That’s the public you. The way you casually chat with your friend? That’s the private you. Successful public speaking begins with a voice that rests comfortably in the middle of the private and public voice without stage fright or cockiness. It might seem obvious that a good speech begins with a great speaker, but between research, presentations, and that whole being very afraid of public speaking in front of an audience thing, it’s easy to forget.
Having self-confidence, good timing, and a healthy amount of nervous energy that keeps you on point in front of a group is a great start. However, public speaking success begins with making an emotional connection with the audience, so start by talking directly to them (not your notes). And if you slip up on a word? Don’t apologize or get too caught up in it. Really, nobody will even notice, so just move on quickly.
Tip #2: Craft a clear message
When there’s a fear of public speaking, one tends to think the overall goal of a presentation is to not throw up on stage, but actually, the goal of a great presentation is to communicate a message successfully. You can do this in many different ways, but it all starts with research, a focused understanding of your topic, and solid storytelling. The bonus of being so well-prepared? More self-confidence, which leads to better eye contact, stronger delivery and therefore, a totally killer speech or presentation.
Also, don’t forget that a lot of what you say is also what you don’t say. Having a beautiful visual aid to accompany you, and a good grasp on nonverbal communication, can really make or break a speech. So relax those shoulders and unclench your jaw, you’re gonna do just fine!
Tip #3: Change up the channel
It's important to understand how different media can completely change the meaning of a message. Have you ever received a text and wondered why your friend is mad only to find out you read it wrong? Us, too.
Random text on a screen with no context (yes, even when it's organized in bullet points) or a confusing monologue can leave people scratching their heads wondering what’s going on here? Instead, present a stunning deck filled with visuals that support the specific message for that slide: Inspiring photography, engaging videos, funny graphics, clear data charts and graphs, et cetera.
Accompany said deck with a friendly but authoritative tone of voice, and you’ll motivate the whole crowd to action—no matter if you’re giving your talk via Skype or live on stage. Good news: We know just the place that can help out with creating an alluring presentation that captivates in every medium (It’s us. The answer is us).
Tip #4: Be your authentic, imperfect self
You need to dazzle your listener, and the truth is, the most effective public speaker is also a salesperson. You’re selling your listener on an idea, or maybe even on you, so speak to your large audience from the heart, not from a note card you memorized based on statistics you swiped from the web.
If you want to elicit a real response, you’re going to have to let go of the need to be perfect and just be your authentic self, warts and all. It makes you a better speaker and a better storyteller to remember your presentation is a chance to capture an entire audience, not just pontificate to the void.
Tip #5: Don't be afraid of feedback
Practice makes perfect. We’re sure your mom has told you that. Make sure to practice your presentation a few times in front of people so you can get comfortable with the material, conquer stage fright, and maybe even pick up a few pieces of feedback.
Try not to cringe. Yes, being critiqued is maybe not as much fun as say, anything else ever, but it is better than watching your presentation tank live in front of an audience. Honest feedback will let you know where you need to step up your game, or pull back, so your presentation can really shine. You don’t want to look out to see a yawning audience with folded arms. Or worse, no eye contact because everyone is looking down at their phones.
If you find that your live presentation is falling flat because you see nonverbal communication cues that read bored, shake things up with a new approach or use impressive design to give your ideas a fresh take. (We have some ideas…)
Tip #6: Look out for interference
Lots of things can cause a hiccup in a presentation, and really, it happens to everyone now and again, but overall, there are three types of interference: external, internal, and speaker-generated.
They’re pretty self-explanatory. We’ve all been in a theatre when a cell phone rings (external), or too preoccupied with our thoughts to pay attention to a conversation (internal), and surely we’ve all mispronounced a word or two (speaker-generated). Many things can throw an audience off, they’re fickle.
As a public speaker, watch for the signs of a distracted group. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to overcome the issue. Some might even be easy fixes. For example, if you’re being rattled by a heavy train that whistles every time it passes (external distraction for those keeping score), don’t be afraid to acknowledge the noise or even make a joke to diffuse an awkward situation. It may even endear you to the audience by turning an uncomfortable moment into a funny one.
Tip #7: Understand context
Be sure to get a good "big picture" view of the event, meeting, rally or seminar at which you've been asked to speak. You’ll want to find out as much as you can about the conditions you’ll be presenting in so you can tailor everything to your environment. Trust us. For instance, jokes probably won’t fly when presenting at a conference about a serious illness, but feel free to make some puns at the company expo. It’s all about context.
Understand the key players and objectives for the entire conference. If there's a macro theme for the event, weave that in—or at least make sure your topic relates to it. After all, appreciating the "takeaways" your audience hopes to get from your speech is key.
These seven (7) public speaking tips may be a lot to keep track of, but in time as you do more presenting, they’ll become second nature, and you’ll become a more effective speaker. If you want to enhance your presentation even more, create a corresponding deck that really wows. You know the old saying from high school English class, show don’t tell? Beautiful.ai can help you do that. Our software is a fast and easy way to up your public speaking game by using a powerful visual aid—either by starting from scratch with our smart slide templates, or getting a jumpstart with our customizable presentation templates. Sign up today and make tomorrow’s presentation awesome.