Most people feel something between mild nervousness and overwhelming anxiety when it comes to public speaking. There’s just something about talking in front of an audience that makes some people retreat into their shell. But like any activity that expands your comfort zone, public speaking gets easier the more you do it. Whether you’re preparing for your first speech or you make presentations on a regular basis, here are five tips to improve your public speaking skills.
Tell the audience what point you’re trying to make and why it’s important enough to warrant their attention
Think of it like the thesis statement of your presentation — people need a reason to listen, so give them one. By addressing the subject matter up front, it’s easier for the audience to follow along and interpret your overall message.
Move your gaze around the audience and don’t be afraid to make eye contact with people
Eye contact makes some speakers feel vulnerable on stage, but it’s important to forge an emotional connection with your audience. The entire conversation feels more intimate when you’re looking at the audience and speaking to them directly.
Pay attention to your tone of voice and volume
No one wants to listen to a monotone speaker, so inject a little personality into your presentation. Speak up and fluctuate appropriately throughout your speech, but learn toward the louder end of the scale. Research has shown that listeners perceive those with louder voices as having a higher authority.
Eliminate filler words such as um, like, and you know
Speakers typically revert to these words during transitions when they want to avoid silence, but saying nothing at all can actually be very powerful. Periods of silence build anticipation and also allow the audience to reflect on what you’ve said. If you really struggle with filler words, here are some additional tips to help you avoid saying them during a speech or presentation.
Use body language to show confidence and emphasize different points of the presentation
Don’t go overboard to the point of distracting your audience, but body language involves more than just standing up straight and talking with your hands. Express yourself in a way that gives off an energetic presence and pulls the audience in.
As a bonus tip, try and leave some time at the end of your presentation for a question and answer session. This gives your listeners a chance to voice their thoughts and be part of the conversation, instead of just a bystander. Follow these tips to connect with your audience more effectively and deliver your message with professional confidence.
Like any other skill, public speaking takes practice to get comfortable with and master. Bongo’s video-based platform enables corporate trainers and instructors to create exercises where learners practice speaking in a structured environment. To learn more about how Bongo can help improve public speaking skills, visit our website.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]