Public speaking can be a scary thing. I know I tend to freak out when I hear that I need to give a presentation to the class or talk to a group of people I do not know. However, that’s the beauty of life: you learn to conquer your fears and embrace them. If you are fearful of public speaking, here are seven tips to becoming a stronger public speaker:
Be an expert on your topic, no matter what it is.
It does not matter if you hand-picked the topic or if it was assigned to you; you better know it like the back of your hand. When you are speaking in front of a group, big or small, you want to know what you are doing. You want to anticipate questions that your audience might ask so you can be prepared. Do your research and practice, practice, practice.
Presentation is everything.
Sometimes you do not need visuals, but I would use them. They help your audience picture what you are talking about. This is extremely useful if you are demonstrating something. Graphs help your audience see what you are talking about as well. For example, a pie chart or bar graph could really help you get your point across. PowerPoint presentations can help keep the audience engaged.
Speak clearly and loudly, but don’t yell.
When you are speaking to a crowd you want them to be able to hear you perfectly in the back of the room, yet you do not want to be screaming at the front row. You want to annunciate your words, speak at a constant pace and at an appropriate volume. It will make you seem very cool, calm and collected. This will help keep the audience more engaged.
Make eye contact and connect with your audience.
When you talk to your audience you want to make eye contact; it helps you connect with them. It also makes them feel more connected to you. Connecting with your audience helps keep them awake while you are presenting.
Get your audience involved.
Getting your audience involved makes your speech seem more interesting. There are many different ways of going about this concept. You could start out by asking them a question, having them close their eyes and give a descriptive scene so they could imagine them in that specific scene, or many other things. Doing little things like this helps keep your audience attentive throughout our speech. You do not want them to get bored and fall asleep. Make it exciting—use vibrant colors and connect it to their lives.
Dress to impress.
You always want to look your best, especially during a presentation. Not only do you want to seem like you know what is going on, but you also want to look the part. I would recommend always wear professional or business casual attire. People appreciate it when you look nice, and it gives the whole situation a good vibe. However, the most important accessory you could wear is your smile. This will brighten up your outfit, and the room.
Confidence is key.
This is the most important step in the public speaking process; confidence is key to the entire thing. Without confidence you could not accomplish any of the steps listed above. Confidence has the power to change the whole atmosphere of your speech.
Taylor Pieper is current junior pursing degrees in Public Relations and Digital Design. She is a member of PRSSA and AIGA; and serves as the public relations director for the student-run firm, Red Brick Communications and the campus events chair for the Chapter. Taylor is on the university’s softball team, and would like work as a special events planner post graduation.